The best way to predict the future is to create it.

Peter Drucker

Preface: As an amateur in many aspects of my life - I've learned it's often best to bring in a professional help when it is needed. As an entrepreneur and self-employed consultant I am dependent upon shameless self promotion. This posting allows me to shamelessly self promote while simultaneously outsourcing to a professional writer (and my favorite columnist even in advance of this fabulous column). I hope you enjoy!

THE CORPORATE CURMUDGEON - By Dale Dauten

MAKING SURE CUSTOMERS WILL PAY FOR WHAT THEY DON’T YET WANT

"Just because everything is different doesn't mean anything has changed.”
Irene Peter

When things go wrong, there is something about drawing up a list of Reasons Why that is… so... so... reasonable. There’s comfort in understanding. However, once you have a list of Reasons, it can be useful to cross out the word “Reasons” and write “Excuses” in its place, just to see how it fits.

What got me thinking about reasons versus excuses was doing research for a talk at a conference for an industry in long, slow decline. Doing my background work, the executives had plenty of reasons for the steady drop. I recounted this list during my talk, got everyone nodding, then announced that these were just excuses to cover-up the real problem: a failure of leadership. This came as a surprise, but only to the leaders.

It wasn’t that they weren’t working hard. Many of them spoke proudly of how well their businesses were serving customers. However, a smoothly functioning operation is a victory for management, not leadership. Looking down and around -- making sure there’s parking and that the toilets flush, and someone to take customers’ money – that’s management. Being the place that people want to be, being different while being the same, that is leadership. It's the leader's job to climb to the top of the mountain with the binoculars -- to see the future and get there.

Speaking of getting to the future, I’ve been following the work of Michael Manes of Square One Consulting in New Iberia, Louisiana, who, after years of referring to himself as a Change Agent, has changed his title – he’s now a Change Architect.

(Let’s take a minute to consider the issue of job titles. Sure, there are some that make my eyes roll, like Director of Wow! But there are others that make me smile, and offer insight into how the company sees itself – for instance, Director of Talent Development. And while you and I might disagree over the usefulness of clever job titles, I have only to pass along one title to convince you that the wrong one can be have an effect worse than making your eyes roll; it can make your eyes glaze over. This is an actual title of a guy from a national research company: North American Stakeholder Management Practice Leader. Just typing that, my fingers went numb.)

But back to Michael Manes. He’s a man of many insights, one of those whose name on my e-mail list starts me smiling even before I can open the message. He sent me a pair of quotes to illustrate the difference between Change Management and Change Architecture.

Jack Welch: "Those who embrace change will be the winners, those who will resist it will be the losers."

Peter Drucker: "The best way to predict the future is to create it."

Even more telling, he summarized the difference between his old and new titles this way: The Change Manager believes in Carpe Diem! -- Seize the day! -- whereas the Change Architect believes in Carpe Mañana! -- Seize tomorrow!

In that pair, Manes has gotten to the difference between management and leadership. The manager makes sure that customers get what they pay for, whereas, the true leader – Carpe Manana! -- makes sure that customers will some day pay for what they don’t yet know they’re going to want.

Dale Dauten is co-founder of AgreementHouse.com, a company resolving business disputes. A paperback edition of his book “The Laughing Warriors” has recently been released. Please write to him in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th ST, 15th Fl, New York, NY 10019, or at dale@dauten.com.

2010 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

FROM KING FEATURES, 300 E. 57th ST, 15th Fl, NEW YORK, NY 10019
FOR RELEASE WEEK OF FEB. 7, 2010

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