I am going through a series of workshops with my current management team, and separately with my team of direct reports, to improve the overall levels of trust within the organization. Personally, I think this is all a really good thing: these activities give us all a much needed opportunity to sit and reflect upon what is working, and what isn't working within our organization. My teams works together fairly well, although I recognize that we are immature in a few areas. But we all recognize this, and want to grow and develop and work together to build something better. This past few months has been a rewarding experience for me, professionally, as my growing team gels.
In part because of these workshops, I've been a bit reflective on the overall change happening here in the Online Services business at Microsoft - and, specifically, within my larger team. Part of me is just so tired - physically - of the tremendous work it takes to maintain/repair some professional relationships. It's amazing how much time I spend explaining or justifying some of my activities, versus some of my partner teams just giving me the trust I need to do my job. I chalk much of it to our tremendous workload, and give people the benefit of the doubt when the minor battles arise. Where we need to be careful, however, is in doing the right things: we need to recognize the intent of each other's actions, that we're all trying to do the right things, and keep moving the needle in the right direction. If we can do that, if we can keep doing the right things, we'll get through the rest of it.
Yes, I am being intentionally vague. :-)
So when I came across the article in Fortune by Jim Collins, it just hit home:
"Companies do not fall primarily because of what the world does to them or because of how the world changes around them; they fall first and foremost because of what they do to themselves."
"It doesn't matter what lens we look through - the lens of those that go from good to great, the lens of zero to great in exciting new industries, or the lens of those that prevail in adversity and last 100 years - one lesson stands out: Whether you prevail or fail, endure or die, whether you make it onto the Fortune 500, and whether you stay there, depends more on what you do to yourself than on what the world does to you."
"When you've built an institution with values and a purpose beyond just making money - when you've built a culture that makes a distinctive contribution while delivering exceptional results - why would you surrender to the forces of mediocrity and succumb to irrelevance? And why would you give up on the idea that you can create something that not only lasts but also deserves to last?
"The best corporate leaders never point out the window to blame external conditions; they look in the mirror and say, "We are responsible for our results!" Those who take personal credit for good times but blame external events in bad times simply do not deserve to lead our institutions. No law of nature dictates that a great institution must inevitably fall, at least not within a human lifetime. That most do fall - and we cannot deny this fact - does not mean you have to be one of them."