Adjusting course

You never achieve success following a straight line to a stable target. Changing conditions, lessons learned, and moving targets require leaders to adjust organizational trajectory. The path to success is a jagged line filled with course adjustments.

High achievers are demoralized when courses adjust. They feel they’ve wasted time and resources on irrelevant activates. After all, they’ve passionately pursued a carrot that you moved. Additionally, some in your organization value stability and have low tolerance for change. To them, adjusting course indicates lack of foresight, planning, or courageous leadership.

Three ways to navigate course adjustments

#1. Keep your eye on external targets. Organizations naturally drift toward internal complexity while losing sight of external targets. Leaders constantly correct organizational drift by shifting focus from insiders to outsiders. Success lies outside your organization with the people you’re serving. This means your training initiatives, LEAN practices, reorganizations, and realignments ultimately are about “them” not you.

#2. Celebrate the past, don’t demonize it. Using past failures as motivation to adjust course insults dedicated employees and volunteers who’ve worked toward organizational success. Rather than complaining, focus on lessons learned. For example, don’t say we failed at gaining new customers. Say, we’ve learned our current methods of phone sales aren’t effective.

#3. Look to outsiders for guidance. Don’t reinvent the wheel, leverage the experience of others. Identify successful leaders and organizations and learn from them. Additionally, reexamine your client’s orientation toward your product or service so that you can enhance your value.

There comes a time when you realize the current course isn’t working. It’s a painful, awkward moment. You may run from it. Or, you may cling to the present hoping conditions will change. The better option is adjusting your course. The path to success is a jagged line.


What other strategies help individuals and organizations navigate course adjustments?


Leadership Freak

Dan Rockwell