Dave and I just finished teaching our 4 day Strategic Leadership program at Royal Roads University last week and had a wonderful time with an energetic, bright and creative group of people. One of the major concepts in the course is the importance of convening diverse groups of people to plan strategy in our increasingly complex environment.
This can be a tough concept for folks who have been trained to develop strategy from an “expert” mindset. “What could someone not familiar with our business possibly contribute?” is a question often asked.
As it turns out, they contribute a lot, namely in the area of helping to surface our own blind spots and bringing random, creative ideas to the forefront. Novel strategic approaches and newfound energy is unleashed when one is open to feedback and insight.
Is this easy? Absolutely not. I think it’s the human condition to assume that we know and understand our own blind spots (ironic though that sounds!). Incorporating feedback that points out how flawed our thinking and strategies have been is a blow to our identity. And that’s what makes it so hard. Just who have we been continuing to pursue a course of action despite its ineffectiveness?
And that’s what great leaders can do – develop the humility to admit they have been off course or better yet, assume they may have been and bring a “non expert” in to provide a different perspective.