EDUCATED INCAPACITY Ken and Marjorie Blanchard, pioneers in the leadership and training development field, were Chief Scouts at LN’s recent Exploring Off The Map Expedition and spoke on lessons learned from creating their company’s Office of the Future. Ken Blanchard: What became real clear to me is that you can’t have the same people doing tasks of both the present and future. I see organizations that have people who are running the organization going off on retreats trying to plan the future. The reality is that people with present responsibility planning your future will kill your future because they are already overwhelmed with the present. Realizing this and that Marge is the ultimate learner of all time, she stepped up from being president of our company to leading our Office of the Future. Marge Blanchard: We live in what I would call a polarity world, a both/and world. We want and need both things but both things come with negatives. When you talk about the need for speed, you also hear someone like Meg Wheatley talk about relationships or slowing down. There are polarities of decentralization/centralization, and people act as though they are either/or and they really are both/and. I was struggling with the idea that for every trend there’s a countertrend, and was beginning to feel like I was going crazy. The other thing that I started realizing was that I had been in our industry a long time. I had been a trainer, I had been running our company, and I had what I now call "educated incapacity." I knew so much about how things had been, and so much about what had worked and hadn’t worked in the past, that I could not forget the past enough to be able to see the things that were new, to be able to see the things that were at the edges. One of the things we have learned is not to ask doctors about the future of medicine, nor to ask lawyers about the future of law, and probably not to ask educators about the future of education because they’re seeing it from their eyes. Their eyes are very wise eyes but they are old eyes. They can help, but I knew that I needed to see things from childlike eyes. We have trained our leadership in this idea of polarity management because I think that’s what keeps organizations from moving forward. They see one direction, but they sort of intuit the problems of that direction. They know there are problems in what they have now, but there are some good things that they have now. This basically paralyzes an organization. So we’ve really tried to think, "How do you do both/and?" So when I think of technology, I think, "How can technology be a relationship’s friend? How can speed be a balance of life friend? How can structure help us surrender? How can one-on-one attention create critical mass? And how can a focus on the future be a present-time friend?" What this has done is free us up to be able to both learn and push the organization. I keep asking our organization, "What would take us back to zero? Who could put us out of business totally?" That’s not a very comfortable question to ask people, but you would be amazed at how creative people can get if we look at a situation from childlike eyes. Audiotapes of the Blanchards’ complete remarks and the total EOTM expedition are available through Convention Cassettes by calling 800-776- 5454. Look for a recap of Exploring Off The Map, including other journal reflections, in the forthcoming issue of NEXT. To be placed on the mailing list for NEXT, call 800-765-5323 or visit http://www.leadnet.org.

source: Explorer, July 17, 2000 tags: Leadership, Organization