Breaking It Down – The Antidote To “IKEA” Leaders

I have a love/hate relationship with IKEA.

On the one hand, they sell exceptionally cost-effective furnishings that can often look good for the price. On the other hand. I so often find that the frustration of dealing with their products overshadows the money I save.

Simple Made Difficult

IKEA LeaderFor instance, take the shelving system I bought last weekend for example.  When I went to IKEA and bought shelving, the assemble-yourself-packaging didn’t include the screws needed for attaching the shelves.

Worse though, when I opened the “instructions,” what I actually found was simply a picture of the parts and then a picture of the finished product. No steps.

What could have been a simple assembly process turned into trial and error, hours of aggravation, and the inevitable discovery at the end that I had some pieces left over whose purpose remains unknown.

• As a leader, is your vision an “IKEA instructions experience” for your team?
• Do people around you seem to spend a lot of time trying to clarify what you see or what they’re supposed to achieve next?
• Do you convey a big picture outline sketch of the finished product you see, then direct people back to a list of resources and leave them to “figure it out”?
• Do projects take much longer than you think they should?

Make it Simple, Einstein

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” — Leonardo da Vinci

Maybe this is an opportunity to ask whether or not you’re taking the time to break it down for your team.

Like it or not, most team members need both the vision and the next steps. This is not about micro-managing. And it’s not an anti-vision message either. In fact, if you can’t show people a vision of what you’re trying to build,  then all the steps in the world may be  nothing more than “busy work”… or as the old adage goes, “climbing the ladder, only to find it’s leaning against the wrong wall.”

Get It In Gear

But let’s face it – it’s faster and more fun to come up with ideas than it is to break those ideas down into a plan that people can actually execute. I’ve consulted with organisations that clearly had “vision fatigue” – the cumulative effect of endless ideas and initiatives that rarely get executed.

These organizations have much higher level of frustration and a lower level of employee engagement.

Whether it’s you, or someone else whose gift is turning ideas into plans, don’t underestimate the price we pay for not translating all that possibility into steps our team can actually take.

So if there’s an aspect of your vision that seems to have stalled, why not take some time this week with a few of your top producers to break it down for the team.

  • Create a plan
  • Lay out a sequence of steps
  • Clarify the starting point.
  • Set some milestones

Then see if pictures and plans produce better results than pictures alone.

So how can you simplify the next large vision by breaking it down to doable steps? How can you help your team get past visionary “pipe dreams” and make them happen? How can you connect your next venture to tangible steps that become a blueprint for success? I would love to hear your ideas!

Paul Andrew is Founder of The Leadership Coach
He is a Keynote Speaker and Management Consultant based in New York
Email | LinkedIn | Website | Blog | Twitter | +1 917 913 4598

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