One of lingering fallacies about business is believing that Jim Collins is right. As the bestselling researcher-author of Good to Great and now, Great by Choice, Collins is pretty good at retrospectively interpreting what worked in the past for some businesses. But he’s not great at forecasting how they’ll do when the research project is complete and the book is published.
Turns out, if you follow the companies Collins called winners, they are now: not so much. Turns out Collins is a lot like the uncle you’ll soon sit next to at a holiday dinner. The one who tells you how great General Motors was before its CEO Robert McNamara started the Vietnam war.
Okay, that’s harsh. But, it’s the truth. Actually, that’s a good measure when judging whether something important is true. The truth probably hurts, or at least causes you to wince. If someone tells you the so-called truth, and your cheeks are blushing with how wonderful you are? It’s not the truth and it’s not going to help you succeed in this chaotic environment.
What does work in helping you predict the future, and more importantly deliver the greatest odds of succeeding in the nearly incomprehensible rush of problems and opportunities you face?
Your attitude is what really matters.
Not your skill set. Not your network. Not the number of business books you suck back and arm yourself with – or at least buy to fill up your Kindle or iPad.
I had a look back at a course from Dr. Moshe Rubinstein, the father of problem-solving, productivity and leveraging the creative forces that is your brain. Without trying to express how profoundly grateful I am to have found a moving box that included some of my coursework from the then UCLA Graduate School of Management (now Anderson), I will share what Rubinstein knew a long time ago.
The 9 attitudes that solve any business problem
- View a problem as a challenge, an opportunity for new experiences to expand your problem-solving repertoire.
- Focus on the present and future obstacles, and deal with those you can do something about. When obstacles appear to be insurmountable: question the goal, and if necessary, modify it.
- Pay attention to the distinction among facts, opinions and judgments. First get the facts, then interpret them. Don’t judge the facts before you do that analysis.
- Listen to experts, authorities and others you trust as if you will be required to take an exam on what they are saying. Don’t refute or judge what they say when they say it. Ask questions if you don’t understand, but don’t argue.
- Use reason not pride. You will be tempted to distort the facts if you have to manage your ego rather than manage the problem-solving process.
- Don’t solve the problem too soon. Take every minute you can to gather and process information from sources. Don’t take more time than you can afford, but do not begin your evaluation and selection of a solution prematurely.
- Focus your attention on surmountable obstacles that block the way to a solution, any solution. Identify what can’t be overcome, and if a path still exists around those, then pick off the ones that remain.
- Expect that implementation of the solution will be harder than coming to it. You’ll undoubtedly need other people to implement. Educate them about the benefits of a solution, before you tell them what they will need to do.
- Believe you have control, because then you will. Even if you are wrong in fact, the perception that you have control will promote your ability to perform. Ask yourself if you have a choice, and if you answer honestly, you almost always realize that you do. Choice is control.
So no hedgehogs or foxes needed now or in the future, sorry Jim.
What Dr. Rubinstein documented about the power of communication? It is the greatest formula anyone ever devised about how you can get exactly what you want and more: from yourself and others.
Change your attitude; change your life.