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Side By Side Leadership



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Side By Side Leadership the Book, Shared Visionary Goals Drive Innovative Thinking (P87-88)


When Returns are Not Materializing, Things Quickly Turn to "Cut Costs or Perish"

Not long ago, a group of oilfield workers and their district supervisor were struggling to reduce their production costs from $13 a barrel, which was almost the price of oil at the time. The supervisor knew that unless those costs were substantially reduced within six months, headquarters would close the field and put everyone out of work. He immediately called a meeting to explain the situation and discuss ways to reduce costs.


The Challenge of Survival

Using a method called structured brainstorming, the supervisor asked workers to write down their ideas before the discussion began. He also had them designate a few individuals as “wild idea” participants, whose role was to think up some truly off-the-wall solutions.


You Will Be Surprised Where You Get Your Best Ideas

It was one of these wild-idea contributors, the supervisor of a warehouse full of parts and supplies, who came up with the largest cost reduction. He suggested, and the group agreed, that they should close his warehouse and draw on a similar one in operation nearby. Prior to the team meeting, the group had resisted all efforts to close their warehouse, even though the neighboring one contained the same supplies. This and many other ideas they came up with cut costs enough to allow the workers to keep their jobs.


The real possibility that the company might have to close the oilfield and cut their jobs did more than force innovative thinking. It also pressed the workers to put their ideas into action as quickly as possible. As a result of their innovative thinking, costs dropped dramatically, from $13 per barrel to a phenomenal $3 per barrel.


Downplaying Challenges can Undermine Commitment

Work teams and wild animals know that one of the biggest incentives for high performance is the presence of a clear challenge to their survival. Authors John Katzenbach and Douglas Smith argued as much in The Wisdom of Teams. I have found a similar factor at the organization level: when leaders accurately identify and clearly communicate the external threats to the organization’s survival, all members of the organization are more responsive to new programs to improve the organization.


There is Nothing Like an Imminent Threat to Seed Creative Thinking

The challenge posed by a direct threat to its existence can push an organization, like a biological organism, to find ways of surviving. It focuses people’s attention and clears the mind; unimportant issues fade away; innovation and breakthrough thinking suddenly come naturally.


Better and More Powerful Than a Threat to Survivial, are Shared Goals

But for a truly powerful effect on a company’s fortunes, the push of danger can be coupled with the magnetic pull of specific, compelling goals. In a setting where communication, power, and teamwork are a shared experience, the combined effect of these incentives is a recipe for breakthrough performance. This is the case in Side by Side Leadership.


Action You can Take Today

If you need to deliver the promised M&A synergies or on other commitments you have made, then you may find the award winning book Side By Side Leadership helpful. It describes a thoroughly tested and effective model for improving interpersonal relationships, improving personal and group motivation, and gets right to the heart of getting two seperate cultures to work together. You may also find the book Breakthrough Teamwork helpful for individuals at the team level. Both books are an excellent investment in your own and your endeavor's success. At a minimum, we hope that you will give us your thoughts and comments. We are always excited to hear what people think. Here at Side By Side, Inc, we are committed to delivering leadership training and materials that deliver real bottom line results