In my work with clients I’ve heard the expression ‘more with less’ become something of a mantra. People typically respond with the assumption that it means ‘more output with less cost’ and opt for the usual approaches: downsizing, organisational restructuring, and cost cutting and not surprisingly they get the same old results. All of this, despite recognition that things are changing and that we need a more creative approach to succeeding in this new emerging capitalism.
We keep doing the same things because we have the same conversations or no conversations; and my perspective is that there are two factors at play. Firstly, fear of the consequences of speaking out. Research shows that we overestimate the personal risk of expressing a view that is at odds with our view of what the group want to hear. So instead of asking how does this project contribute to our objectives; we may stay silent or agree with going ahead despite the fact that our heart is sinking. The second factor that comes into play is our habits; we quickly become immersed in the way things are done around here and become blind to how the system is shaping our behaviour. For example, in some senior teams, the role of team members is simply to endorse the CEO’s ideas and plans, and conversations cease to happen and eventually no-one even notices what is missing.
If we could add up the cost of those conversations that don’t happen; all of that missed opportunity, dissipated energy, and lost creativity, it would be of Greek debt proportions. Next time you find yourself holding back from speaking, ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen? Then, remember that we overestimate the risk of letting our true voice be heard.
Perhaps it’s time for the mantra to change to more conversations with less fear.