Friday, November 4, 2011

Sinking the Boat vs. Missing the Boat

by Virgil Carter

William C. Taylor’s latest book, Practically Radical:  Not-So-Crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake Up Your Industry and Challenge Yourself (William Morrow, 2011), suggests, among other things, that downturns in the economy are the very times to be innovating.  Instead of worrying about sinking the boat, Taylor says leaders should be worried about not missing it!  In a review by David K. Hurst, in Strategy + Business, Hurst points out that Taylor “advocates rocking the boat—that is, exploring “radical shifts that represent a direct challenge to convention and a break with the status quo”, while remaining realistic about your ability to make change happen. 

Taylor, you may remember, is a former editor of the Harvard Business Review and cofounder of Fast Company magazine, and has been a leading writer and observer of the management revolution of creating agile organizations that engage their people so that they will innovate and create new ventures in the knowledge economy.

The book is organized in three segments:  1) improving your company; 2) creating successful new ventures, and 3) rethinking ones leadership style.  Each segment of the book consists of themed chapters featuring “radically practical” truths, rules and habits.  The appendix includes “ten questions that every game changer must answer”, such as “if your company went out of business tomorrow, who would miss you and why?”

Taylor suggests economic downturns are ideal times to be innovating in all of these categories.  His point is that “instead of worrying about sinking the boat, one should be concerned with not missing it”.   He suggests that this is as good a time as any for challenging the status quo.

For non-profit organizations that “always do it this way”, this may be the time and the book to that helps elevate the organizational vision.  Two of the book’s chapters, titled “What your see shapes how you change” and “Where you look shapes what you see” could just be the eye-openers needed for a new status-quo.

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