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A Culture of Discipline

Discipline Discipline. Boy, that's a word that raises all kinds of angst even in the most got-it-to-together individuals. In our businesses, we value discipline. We want more of it. But developing it...there's the rub!

Remember in his book Good to Great , Jim Collins talks about how the great organizations display three forms of discipline:

  • disciplined people
  • disciplined thought
  • disciplined action

And what's so great about those three? With disciplined people, you don't need hierarchy. With disciplined thought, you don't need bureaucracy. And with disciplined action, Collins says you don't need excessive controls.

How free is your business of hierarchy, bureaucracy and excessive controls? Your answer is a reflection of your company's resolve (or discipline).

Whether it's personally or professionally, we pretty much already know what we need to do to achieve what it is we want to achieve, don't we? Think about it. If you want to lose weight, don't you already know what you NEED to do. But having the resolve to do it...there's the rub. The same thing applies to our businesses. If you're gaining lots of new clients but losing old ones, don't you already know what you NEED to do. But having the discipline and commitment to actually build client relationships...there's the rub.

In his book, Strategy and the Fat Smoker, David Maister says, "We know what to do, we know why we should do it, and we know how to do it. Yet most businesses and individuals don't do what's good for them." Guess what the subtitle to his book is. "Doing What's Obvious But Not Easy."

What's with that? I'm totally fascinated by this dilemma of having the will --or call it resolve, determination, or discipline--to actually do what it is we already want or need to do! I'm fascinated both personally and professionally.

I'm probably fascinated by this conundrum because the majority of my professional work comes down to helping business people solve this dilemma for themselves...to find their own breakthroughs in terms of strategy, leadership and relationships. To DO what they say they really want to do. To develop goals, implement accountabilities and celebrate successes.

Sounds easy, doesn't it? Ah, but there's the rub!

Photo on flickr by that_yellagurl_keisha


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