Anchors Aweigh!

Change is all around us and accelerating. I keep telling you how change is good and hopefully providing some insights on how to take advantage of change in your own life.

Preacher Dad

It’s holiday time and just like it does for many others, the memories come flooding back around this time of year. For a Lutheran Preacher’s kid, many of those memories surround church schedules and fitting other events around the services. Meals, present opening, and family visits added to the mix of two very busy days.

One of the most important pieces of the memories were Dad’s Christmas Day sermons. He didn’t preach often, but almost every Christmas Day he was in the pulpit announcing the birth of the Savior in a unique way. “The Boot of the Trampling Warrior,” “There is No Snow in Bethlehem,” and “What’s a Little Baby Gonna Do?” are all titles that come to mind.

These are all good memories and part of who I am. They form a bit of an anchor in the sea of change within my life. We all have them and we all need them!

It got me to thinking about anchors and how they both help and hurt the change process. They help to keep us steady in difficult and changing times, connecting us to our bases and keeping us close to what’s important. Anchors get in our way when they slow progress and hinder our ability to adapt.

Anchors keep us steady in times of change. My Christmas memories tie me into an eternal cosmos and provide me with a sense of who I am and how I got here. Companies have the same type of anchors – the legends and traditions that provide brand and substance to the organization. Anchors help us stay steady – or at least upright – in turbulent seas of change.

They can also be drags and hold us back from where we need to go. Personal change is hard. My old habits and rules of thumb are comfortable: they allow me to go through life without rethinking every situation that comes along. The difficulty comes when those habits get in the way of the change necessary to grow and move along with the flow of life.

Anchors have the same purpose in companies. Processes and policies make companies more efficient. They also cause lock-in and inflexibility. “We’ve always done it this way” or “It’s policy” are anchor responses that provide cover for managers, but can be the kiss of death for the change needed to compete in today’s market. They’re a drag!

So what does all this mean? Using anchors wisely is critical for success and can be one of the key differences between leaders and managers. This is true for us as individuals, and also for our organizations. Understanding how anchors help and harm, and using them with discretion, is a critical skill!

Have a great Holiday Season and see you in the New Year!!


1 Response to “Anchors Aweigh!”

  1. 1 F Peter Brinkman
    January 11, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    I like the picture!

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