It used to be that the sure-fire approach to solving anything big and complex was to seek out correspondingly big brains: the internal or external experts or consultants with a long track-record of figuring things out. Whoever had the biggest brains on their side would win.
Today, more often than not, the biggest brains don’t ensure success. It’s as if the challenges you’re dealing with have developed a resistance to big brains, persistently defying the elegant solutions produced by smart people and lots of money.
But it’s not the challenges that have developed a resistance; it’s your people. They are the antibodies fighting off the decisions and plans formulated by others – because they see them as foreign objects.
The notion of a powerful, change-resistant organizational immune system is not new. John Hagel and Salim Ismail are two luminaries who have underscored this universal truth. And while there is an undeniably powerful immune system that scorns change in favor of the status quo, it can fairly easily be overcome if you approach problem-solving the right way. Outside brains delivering outside solutions activate the immune system; solutions that your people have a hand in creating, neutralize it.
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