Cracks in the Ceiling
Updated: Jul 21, 2019
I recently moved into a new home. You notice a lot of things about a home once you buy it and move in that you never noticed before. There are cracks in the ceiling, leaky pipes, broken glass, and loose floorboards. Most of these things are not important, they are cosmetic.
What does matter is the foundation. Is it solid?
The people who previously owned this home did not spend time in their basement. It was obvious when we walked through the house before buying: the interior was pristine. The basement was a mess.
The first thing my husband and I did to our new house was to clean and repair the basement. We addressed the cracks we found down there: problems that no one would ever see but which were, ultimately, important. A house needs a strong foundation and so we started in the basement and worked our way up.
The same rational applies to organizations.
Is the foundation solid? When issues arise, and they will, do those issues get traced back to their source and addressed at a systemic level, or is your organization a series of patchwork fixes?
There is one easy way to check and see if you have a foundational problem or a cosmetic problem:
Does it recur?
Recurring problems indicate there is something flawed in the system itself. It may be that the processes and procedures have not kept up with the times, and a new way of doing business that relates to the current contest is necessary. It may be that the size and scale of the business has changed, but the system is still functioning as it once did. In this case, the issue is two-fold: the organization does not have a habit of planning for growth and, therefore, does not have the necessary infrastructure to deal with changing demands.
Take some time to do a walk-through of your current business.
Don’t be distracted by the cracks in the ceiling.
Look instead for the deeper foundational issues that are facing the organization:
Competition, a changing business climate, a dated organizational structure, leadership habits that so not speak to the current generation: where are the flaws in your foundation?
It is of much greater importance to investigate and invest in those deeper issues: they are what will deliver you long term success and vitality.
Fix the foundation! It will be worth the effort and investment and, ultimately, you will have fewer cracks in the ceiling!
Jennifer Owen-O’Quill is an executive coach, facilitator, and organizational consultant who is passionate about coaching leaders to thrive. Jennifer understands intimately the connection between a thriving leader and a thriving organization, and focuses on leveraging strengths and building effective strategy to create individual and organizational success. She is particularly interested in coaching leaders to achieve their desired outcomes as they navigate change and conflict. Jennifer is the Director of Leadership and Strategy for Voltage Leadership Consulting.