Braked out? Pushing the throttle and braking at the same time
We ( the team of Berges Business Facilitation) sit in a briefing with the Managing Director of a quite large medium-size company. He explains to us that his team is not making the desired progress on the current and important challenges. The strategies developed are not working properly. He would like us to unleash the power of his organisation, so that the set goals will be achieved.
The project appeals to us, we dive into it and interview the people involved. The result: The team constantly accelerates, they are really good at pushing the throttle, but some brakes prevent them from moving forward.
Simple and obvious as it sounds in this case – in business practice we often find brakes that are difficult to detect and to release. We call them power-brakes. They prevent companies from using their potential and benefiting from it.
Power brakes: Surprisingly, people are extremely good at slowing themselves down by stepping on those power-brakes: We simplify complex contexts, we think in linear “if-then”-tracks, we behave in accordance with roles and expectations and we hope to be able to promote potentials and increase performance with the “much helps much”- model – only to wonder why we feel so limited or why things are not moving forward. In organizations, this leads to the development of power-brakes that overlap the entire organization, like the avoidance of mistakes, limiting patterns of thought and action, authority leadership style, postponed decision-making, floating projects etc. – which, if not solved, can bring companies to a standstill.
But these seemingly obvious power-brakes are difficult for the braked out to recognize. They are the result of years of thinking and acting, which have worked so far – at least they have already covered a good distance.
If companies fall short of their expectations, these brakes are often reinforced by demands for more of the same.
This is also what happened in the case mentioned. Increasing focus on the achievement of objectives and the KPIs behind them demand even more of the same, only faster and better. This increasing pressure on the organization to perform accelerates the vicious circle: To step on the gas even more and at the same time to step on the brakes even harder.
Release the brakes: If you release the brakes, you don’t have to accelerate any more. Teams and organizations already pick up speed when the foot is taken off the brake.
If you want to stop braking, you first have to recognize the brake. This is difficult for the company to do on its own, as a kind of blind spot is left over its own thinking and behaviour patterns and the admission of brakes such as lack of transparency requires a rethink that is hard to accept.
To uncover and change a company’s own braking behaviour by the company itself is almost impossible, but certainly a tough undertaking. Neutral support from outside, trained in observation and analysis, increases the probability of unmasking the power-brakes, breaking the self-hindering vicious circle and thus progressing full steam ahead. In the aforementioned case of the medium-sized company, our brake diagnostics showed that the brake to be released is the absence of employee participation and the associated lack of clarity about the strategic orientation of the company.
Regocnizing the power-brakes already got the culture-change-process started. Supported by a participatory strategy cascading program, the company was able to take its foot off the brakes and activate its strategy with the participation of motivated employees.
In this case, we, too, came to the same conclusion: Once the foot has been taken off the brake, progress seems to be much easier.
We with Berges Business Facilitation help you release your brakes and unleash the important potentials of your company to fully unfold the power of your organization and teams. Ask for our “Full Steam Ahead”- and “Power UP”- programs.
Trebur, 20 November 2020
Mother of Power Facilitation®
Head of BBF