You may have heard urban legends or stories about people that get lost and invariably walk for hours only to end up at the same point they started, making a big loop. The belief that people who get lost and end up walking in circles is widespread and often alluded to in both literature, films and television. For us older millennials, you may recall this happening in the hit horror movie of the late ‘90s, The Blair Witch Project.
Interestingly, this is anecdote is fully rooted in scientific truth. If you were to go out to an open space, parking lot, beach, field, etc., if you were blindfolded and asked to walk in a straight line, you would stay on track for a period of time until ever so slightly you’d begin to veer off your path and eventually begin looping around in a circle. Humans simply have an inability to walk in a straight line when they do not have a fixed, consistent point to focus on and guide them. This often occurs with lost hikers during cloudy or foggy conditions. When people can see where they’re going, however, it’s a different story. If you weren’t blindfolded and could see a landmark; a mountain, the sun, etc. you’d be able to walk for several hours in a fairly direct path even in an unfamiliar environment.
The question is why? Many hypotheses have been put forward over the last 100 years, most recently by German Research Scientist, Jan Souman, in the early 2000s who posited that it has to do with right or left handedness, right or left-brain orientation and/or right or left arm/leg dominance. However, in his studies no pattern or correlation was found. There is, apparently, no single explanation for this phenomenon.
You’re probably thinking what does this have to do with leadership teams? It has everything to do with focus and opening our eyes and our minds to the strategy of getting us where we want to go. So, what can we learn as leaders?
1. Without a focal point we will get off course. What’s your practice’s focal point? Does your practice have vision, mission, and values? Beyond that, does your team have goals and objectives? Does everyone know which direction they’re supposed to be going in? Unless we have a strong reference point, we will continue to wander and loop back on ourselves.
2. The landscape and environment matter. Have you built a system of CONSISTENT communication within your practice to ensure you’re staying on the right path? More often than not, communication between owners and managers happens in the in-betweens: between patients, when there’s five minutes here or there. Dedicated, structured meetings are critical to your success and staying on track. So too are meetings with each department and your full team.
3. And lastly, how do you know if you’ve gotten off course? Are you measuring your success? Are your eyes open to all your possibilities? Can you quantify the success or failure of an objective? Where should you put your energy and resources next? Using benchmarking, metrics, and key performance indicators to understand where you’ve been and where your opportunity lies can act as your practice’s compass; you want to ensure you’re on a clear, straight path to your desired outcomes and not repeating past mistakes.
At the end of the day, it’s about ensuring alignment. It’s about making sure we’re walking the same trail to success and not circling each other in the dark.
Cleinman Performance Partners sole purpose is to help our clients recognize and realize all their possibilities. If you need some support is getting where you want to go, let us know. We’re here to help. Connect with us anytime at www.cleinman.com.