I’m reading “The Leadership Dojo” by Richard Strozzi-Heckler and he talks about the situation in Iraq where the people once freed struggled to accept the reality of freedom having been without it for 35 years.  On reading this I was struck by the similarity with my MSc. reseach where I explored how people  being outsourced by BAe Systems saw their future.

At the time BAe Systems and the other partner in the new parent company (Xchanging) did a very good job of promoting the positive aspects of the future within what became XHRS, and setting expectations of the people being moved into the new company.  They did this to the extent that those people who stayed in BAe Systems felt they had been let down and couldn’t see a future for themselves in BAe Systems!, and many moved across in the first year of operation.

My results also showed a clear correlation between “ideal” and “XHRS a year from now” representing the power of the created vision and the optimism felt by those in XHRS.  When I repeated my interviews a year later there was still a correlation between the two, albeit not as strong and respondents appeared to have rationalised the lack of progress toward the ideal by perceiving themselves as being fue=rther away from ideal a year ago than they were at the time (cognitive dissonance in action!).

As the vision failed to materialise over the next couple of years we saw a very high attrition rate of people leaving XHRS either back into BAe Systems or to other companies.  Some of the people who stayed also appeared to exhibit resentment and performance did deteriorate within XHRS.

This backlash can occur when we sell a very good vision of the future and then deliver the means but not necessarily the reality or over estimate the time and impact.  Perhaps this is why we’ve had such an interesting local election last week and seen a devastating result for the Lib Dems.

We not only need to create a viable vision of the future but a route map that not only delivers against that vision by showing the way but that also covers celebrating the quick hits and small wins that all take to nearer our goal.  We also need to support and encourage the people involved, edutaion, train and facilitate their personal journey whilst at the same time helping them get a realisitc perspective on the “now” and the future and recognise the road will be long, winding, uphill and down dale with some obstacles, obstructions and detours along the way.