Capitolism

Independent in All Things, Neutral in Nothing

Lack of Imagination, Lack of Inspiration

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Last month, Gary Hamel wrote a fantastic blog post for the Wall Street Journal. In it, he decries the ‘sterility’ of business language, and by implication, the lack of imagination in business. Manager can become so enamored with thoughts of improving performance – as dictated by lines on a graph, no doubt – that they neglect to link improved performance to nobler aspirations. They forget to make those linkages in communications with their employees.

In fact, many managers fail to understand what will inspire their staff members. This is often a hiring failure. Jim Collins reported an incident in one of his books about Gillette not hiring an MBA graduate because he was insufficiently enthusiastic about razors. Now, razors may not inspire you, but good on Gillette for screening for those people who do find inspiration in razors. Even the most mundane business purpose to you or me might be the most fascinating for someone else. Entrepreneurs prove this fact every day.

This lack of inspiration is often, as I alluded to, a failure of imagination by business leaders. Why does this dearth of imagination exist? Is it due to training or education in business? Is it simply a reflection of a broader human lack of imagination? Do business leaders wear down over time and lose their ability to inspire? None of these answers seems right to me. Indeed, this lack of imagination in business perplexes me, because so often business drives such dynamism and innovation in the world. In addition, business leaders read ad nauseum about the need to inspire, uplift and connect employees with the broader organizational mission. Nonetheless, Mr. Hamel’s makes a true observation, and one worth pondering further.

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Written by Russell S.

February 2, 2010 at 2:34 pm

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