Want to say ahead of the game in fast-changing environments? Try this concept: pragmatic exploration.
It’s so hard to take any time out of firefighting your day-to-day to-do list and think about the future. You might have to do it in small steps. Exploration is about continuously pushing the boundaries. Try to make learning and unlearning part of your daily routine and, more importantly, part of your companies’ routine. Think: going out, going down and going deep.
Going out: Benchmarking and gathering market intelligence are the two routines that change ready leaders try to build in their organizations. They look out for best practices and new ideas that will enhance performance – just like top athletes. They don’t limit themselves to industry benchmarks, but look out for cool things happening elsewhere.
Going down: After earning a black belt in the Toyota Production System, Herman Gref, Sberbank CEO, made gemba walks (where an executive regularly spends time on the front lines) mandatory for every Sberbank manager, including the CEO. Make yourself available at every level in the organization.
Going deep: Take time to look at emails and suggestions from employees – really read them from their point of view. Try showing up without fanfare at different offices, in customer service, in a very difficult meeting – and just LISTEN. This is a great way to gather first hand data.
This concept – pragmatic exploration – is just one of the five practices of change ready leaders. Each practices allows leaders to effectively manage a particular challenge. Within each meta-practice, we found a number of very specific behavior strategies, which we called leadership practices.