Are you encouraging change?

Let’s face it – every business, to some degree, struggles with being trapped in yesterday. It’s so easy to focus on the rear-view mirror and stop changing. Successful organizations are particularly vulnerable to inertia. Success makes failure all the more difficult.

A lack of failure is a tell-tale sign of an organization that fears change. Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-fil-A, sees his role as “chief encouragement officer,” and he is encouraging change. With over 2,000 restaurants and $6 billion in sales, Cathy notes that the successful 70-year-old business has “all of the seeds of destruction built into the formula.” One of those seeds is fear of failure. Looking around the organization, he noticed few failures and concluded that too much risk had been squeezed out of the organization. Change requires taking a risk, and risk means there will be failures.

Cathy notes three important actions that Chick-fil-A has taken to encourage risk:

  • Ask questions and listen carefully. Honest questioning allows new thinking to surface.
  • Stimulate the organization with external ideas.While good ideas can come from within, you must also look outside to find great ideas in other industries.
  • Celebrate failures and keep trying. Risk and failure need to be in the organizational conversation, and everyone must see that failure is not something to fear. People should fear inaction, because it will certainly lead to stagnation and decline.

Hear Dan’s thoughts on innovation, risk, and servant leadership in our recent conversation.

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