Last Uated: Feb 4, 014
People naturally avoid change and risk, even when that change could ultimately lead to ir company’s survival. So how do you combat workplace inertia to achieve impossible? Find out here.

achieve the impossibleIt won’t take you to recall last time at work somebody resisted changing something. From mundane and unimportant like changing stationary, look of bulletin board, type of coffee in coffee machine or traditional venue for office holiday party to much more serious like changing organization’s name, dropping a product line, merging to survive or closing regional offices.

How many times has someone said to you, “Oh, you can’t do that. In this organization that’s just impossible.” Workplace inertia is so common it is parodied everywhere, from popular TV shows to comic strips.

In part impossible is held back by risk aversion and fear of change. Change is feared everywhere, but nowhere more than in workplace. Corporations everywhere are littered with mediocrity, a mediocrity that is simply accepted “because doing that is just impossible.” So, organizations are run within ever-narrowing parameters with grudging acquiescence to never achieving what ors see as impossible.

I believe ordinary, accomplished people in organizations, often those in middle management, can achieve impossible. That belief is grounded in experience of my Corporate Relations team at Diageo North America.

Instead of focusing on what’s possible, this team has spent last 10 striving for impossible and making it a , proving it is not always Nobel Laureates or Apollo 13 astronauts who have power to impact real change. Ordinary, accomplished people in organizations, especially those in middle management, can achieve anything. y can and do achieve impossible.

first step is simple: eliminate personal beliefs and social pressures that new ideas, large-scale changes, and innovations cannot be achieved by ordinary people. Reframe what is possible. To do this, I believe all we need to give our teams is motivation – and support – to strive to achieve more than ors think is reasonable or possible.

I’ve worked in White House, had to get stuff done in Baghdad, Kabul, Sarajevo and Pyongyang, and in some of gest companies in world where I’ve seen this idea in action. Now, as Executive Vice President of Corporate Relations for North American operations of Diageo, I am privileged to lead an incredible group of individuals who initiated fundamental change in our industry that many deemed impossible from start. Through use of simple motivational tactics that provide critical structure and support, this team has confounded an entire industry through ir achievements.

By utilizing Seven Guideposts to Achieving Impossible” my team has been driving force behind some of largest scale, transformative changes beverage alcohol industry has seen since Prohibition, remaking social and regulatory landscape of ir industry – something believed impossible just a decade ago.

Managers and ir teams can apply se essential ideas by personally connecting to Seven Guideposts to Achieving Impossible:

1. Believe in yourself. Life-changing and market-leading achievements require individuals and team members to believe in ir ability to accomplish task. This creates a critical starting point, giving one a sense that re are no barriers too to overcome.

. Believe in Mission. From start, everyone on Diageo Corporate Relations team understood what we were working toward, creating a common goal that supersedes all else. But we didn’t stop re. Everyone carried fundamental belief that what he or she needed to accomplish was of enduring value, even when ors refused to believe achieving it would be possible.

3. Be willing to change rules of game. Change is one of most common and most feared concepts – in and in life, especially in corporate America. Yet one of keys to achieving impossible is being willing to change rules of game. It takes ability to look into future and see that “ game” can be played differently. Diageo first changed rules of game when we stopped treating critics as “ enemy.” Instead, Diageo ed to a practice of openness and “constructive engagement” that created real dialogue and progress.

4. Have humility to ask for and use . Athletes are trained to support ir teammates with an RBI, an assist, a pass, whatever. This is a natural part of teamwork and working against a common opponent. In world, however, “ team” and “goal” are often not nearly so obvious. To make corporate teams truly effective, y need to develop a clear, shared vision and identify issues that truly require shared focus and effort. But asking for does not come naturally to all people. In addition, many corporate teams are not structured to engage in this way, and in actuality, are not really a team at all. Diageo North American Corporate Relations team clearly held a shared purpose, and many of its projects required true collaboration, starting with asking for from ors who have knowledge, skills or resources that you do not, taking that freely to accomplish task at hand.

5. Focus all available assets against a single objective. To make substantial change, individual and team have to assemble a broad range of resources and commit se resources to shared goal. This is when impact is most evident.

6. Have tenacity to relentlessly, tirelessly persist. Making fundamental changes in any complex environment takes a great deal of persistence. One has to have a vision for future and persevere toward that vision, working day after day, week after week, year after year, to accomplish end goal.

7. Use your knowledge, skills, experience and training. People with training in a profession or skill have changed ir definition of impossible because y have learned and practiced component skills necessary to achieve seemingly impossible tasks. Even when a new situation appears impossible to well-trained individual, his or her training “kicks in” and s that person figure out how to create success out of certain failure.

Over last decade, Diageo’s Corporate Relations team has consistently worked toward goal of changing social, legal and regulatory landscape for beverage alcohol. All a way, each of us – individually and collectively – knew we were capable of this task, because we were personally connected to each one of se guideposts. It is through accepting and following se tactics any team can achieve impossible.

Guy L. Smith has been Executive Vice President of Diageo North America, world’s leading premium drinks company, since 000. Smith and entire Diageo North America Corporate Relations Team, have just released a new book, If It’s Not Impossible, It’s Not Interesting.


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