Ian returns from a period of “Zooming Out” on family vacation to share some thoughts.
Full Transcription below:
[00:00:00] Hi, I’m Ian McClean. I’m the founder of Flow Group and GreenLine Conversations. And this podcast has grown out of the chaos. That’s been thrust upon us during the podcast. I’m going to try and share with you. The best of 25 years of helping corporate organizations deal and cope with change. So as you’re out there, busy making sense of it, all trying to cope, and maybe in some cases, trying to rebuild your organizations, I’m hoping that some of this can be of some assistance.
[00:00:40] We keep it deliberately short. Cause I know you let’s dive in. I was originally intending to continue on our exploration of conversations, but I’ve decided to take a detour. You’ll have noticed we’ve had a two week gap and that two weeks has been [00:01:00] time that I’ve taken. To step away from business and I’ve spent the last two weeks zooming out and I’ve spent most of that time in nature either by the see or in the forest or in the mountains.
[00:01:14] And it’s the first break. I recognize that for the 18 weeks that we’ve been in the covert. Period. And of course, having taken the two weeks, the old cliche of you never realize how much you needed the break until after you’ve had the break definitely prevails. So I’ve decided to dedicate this episode to the critical need for us to zoom out.
[00:01:40] I’m hoping as you’re listening to this, that you are either taking a break given the time of year. At the moment or the Jor, I’m about to take a break or that you’ve already taken a break, or if you’re really lucky that you’re listening to this by on break. One of the many characteristics of leaders that we’ve [00:02:00] encountered over the last quarter century is a marked reluctance to take a break.
[00:02:05] And there are some very understandable reasons for this. The first is that there is a natural rhythm to the daily routine, which is in a peculiar way, soothing, where we become routine ISED. And the pattern once created is hard to break. The second reason that leaders typically don’t opt to take time out is that they believe they’re indispensable.
[00:02:29] And the third, even more practical reason is that like any busy executive. You could probably spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week, trying to get through your task list of what you know you need to do. And there still wouldn’t be enough time. However, we need to balance that with the reality of the fact that nobody on their deathbed ever regretted, not spending more time at the office, the routine NYSED habit of normal time.
[00:02:58] When I just sold. [00:03:00] When you pick up one end of the stick, you pick up the other. It both has something that favors us and something that gives us fault. Well, it’s in our favor very much, is that by becoming more routine, we do Alvin to the area of unconscious, a lot of those sub routines that we have that we don’t even need to think about anymore.
[00:03:20] And what that allows us to do is it frees up precious bandwidth for us to focus consciously on other things. So it has a merit. However, the other end of the stick is that it both dulls and narrows are overall context. I guess you recognize the fact that much of our best thinking is done when we’re not thinking comedians, we’re stepping into a bath and Newton was sitting in his garden when they both encountered their Eureka moment.
[00:03:51] Think of it as a camera on a landscape. If you zoom in to the landscape, you’ll find at the top of the Heller house [00:04:00] and by zooming in, you’ll be able to examine a lot of the detail of that house. However, when you zoom out, you sacrifice the detail of the house, but what you include is the broader or wider context of the surrounding landscape.
[00:04:17] With a beautiful view or the local amenities, or maybe that local neighbors planning application you otherwise wouldn’t see. It’s the nature of our lives that we spend. The majority of it zoomed in. One thing that often gets missed is that it is the primary responsibility of the leader. To continually zoom out.
[00:04:40] We need to imagine the future as part of safeguarding our business and helping it navigate its way. We can’t do that without having the wider context and zooming out to see the bigger picture. If it isn’t you as a leader who is undertaking to do this, then who is doing it, summertime is a [00:05:00] timely reminder for us, but I’d strongly advocate.
[00:05:04] The institutionalization of zooming out and something that should be part of the regular routine. Most leaders really struggled with this in my experience. Part of the reason for that is that organizations typically reward people handsome for doing, and we become very quickly conditioned that doing is good.
[00:05:24] Zooming out ostensibly requires you to not do. And many leaders really struggle with the guilt associated with the appearance of not doing therefore to help with your zooming out. There are two questions that I would advocate or suggest that you use to think about and reflect. For balance. One is personal and the other business for us, the personal, when we think about age, we typically think about it in chronological terms.
[00:05:54] We think about life as how many years old we are. Well, this is interesting when you [00:06:00] were a kid, when you’re growing up, you still developing and growing, but as you get past a certain age, maybe it is easier or wiser to think about age in a different. Context. What if you thought about time in terms of years left, what this simply does is it shifts our focus of time from yesterdays to tomorrows.
[00:06:24] There are any number of life expectancy, calculators that you can use these days, which will give you some kind of raw information as to roughly how much time we have left. I don’t say this to be more, but I say this to act as a catalyst. For a different way to shape our context around time and to give us a different perspective on how we spend it, because as most leaders fail to realize, but ultimately realize the most precious commodity any of us have.
[00:06:53] It’s time and there’s no more important role that you have as a leader than the role of leading your own [00:07:00] life. So here’s the question once you’ve calculated and thought about how much time notionally we might have left, the question is, are you currently doing the right things for the life that you’ve got left?
[00:07:15] The right things, of course are determined only by you. And the question should include all the relevant dimensions that go to make up your life. Obviously this question, particularly if you’re not in the habit of, it requires both courage and honesty, but wouldn’t you say that courage and honesty are key characteristics for how you’d want to be as a leader.
[00:07:39] Speaking of the right things. It was Peter Drucker who said that leaders did the right things. Was managers focused on doing things right? Zooming out versus zooming in one of Drucker’s other things to bring us to the business question. Was around the idea of systematic abandonment. One of the [00:08:00] consequences of being zoomed into much and being routinized unconsciously is that we hang on to things well past its sell by date.
[00:08:09] When we should have let him go, people. Projects areas of the business that once served a purpose and made rational sense that no longer do, but we don’t notice because we’re too deeply immersed. We’re not quite certain in who discovered water, but we’re pretty sure it wasn’t fish. So here’s the question.
[00:08:31] If we weren’t involved, knowing what we know now, would I still stopped today? Drucker once explained there’s an old medical proverb. There’s nothing more expensive, nothing more difficult. And then to keep a corpse from stinking and most businesses in my experience, keep all waste time, energy, and precious resources to keep their corpses.
[00:08:57] They’re all products from stinking. [00:09:00] Summertime is a great time for zooming out. And indeed it’s been compounded by the Corona situation, which has been a gift in another sense to enable us to zoom out more. It’s no coincidence that segue, that unit four. Personnel mobility that was going to revolutionize on two wheels.
[00:09:22] The way we transport ourselves around after 19 years last month in manufactured its last units. Now it makes far more from stunt scooters and East Gates in June. Olympus sold off its camera division. And in may general electric finally announced the sale of its light bulb business, which trace its history back to Thomas Edison’s original invention.
[00:09:51] The merger of the inventors, Edison general electric company and arrival in 1892, created GE [00:10:00] by zooming out. I hope you create your own light bulb moment until next time stay safe. Stay sane. Stay connected.