Declar­ing break­downs: pow­er­fully cre­at­ing a fu­ture that mat­ters, through 6 sim­ple steps

By sameer dua

The Smart Manager - - Reading Room -

Iwant to be­gin with a claim that declar­ing a break­down is not a bad thing to do. On the con­trary, it is a good thing to do. A very good thing to do. That is ex­actly what all of us in The 5 AM Club did.

When you de­clare a break­down, you ac­tively par­tic­i­pate in your life, in the process of cre­at­ing or de­sign­ing a fu­ture of your choice. This book is about you get­ting skilled in de­sign­ing a fu­ture of your choice. And to do that, you de­clare break­downs.

One of the def­i­ni­tions of ‘break­down’ in the dic­tio­nary is the act of dis­rupt­ing an es­tab­lished or­der so it fails to con­tinue.

Hu­mans are most times blind to how and when a cer­tain or­der gets formed and then we do not even question this or­der. This or­der is the way we do things. At a lot of times, this or­der works for us. And at many other oc­ca­sions, we sim­ply con­tinue to op­er­ate in this au­to­matic or pro­grammed mode without ques­tion­ing the or­der that gets formed. This now does not work for us any­more.

The way to deal with this is to de­clare a break­down.

When I use the word ‘break­down’, a lot of peo­ple ‘lis­ten’ to a me­chan­i­cal break­down. In one of my con­sult­ing as­sign­ments with a global or­ga­ni­za­tion with a turnover in ex­cess of $40 bil­lion-a mem­ber of the top man­age­ment team laughed when I sug­gested that they de­clare a break­down. He looked at the other mem­bers of the top man­age­ment team and laugh­ingly said, ‘We de­clare break­downs when the lift is not work­ing or the printer is not work­ing’. Later, when he un­der­stood the im­por­tance of declar­ing break­downs, he said, ‘This is so pow­er­ful! I’m sur­prised-I did not know this!’

This is the cul­tural blind­ness of today’s cor­po­rate world. Many ex­ec­u­tives across the world do not know when and how to de­clare a break­down. Ac­cord­ing to them, com­mon sense states that you do not de­clare break­downs. As a mat­ter of fact, Bert Lance, the Di­rec­tor of the Of­fice of Man­age­ment and Bud­get in Jimmy Carter’s ad­min­is­tra­tion, was quoted in the news­let­ter of the US Cham­ber of Com­merce, Na­tion’s Busi­ness, May 1977, stat­ing, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.

While Bert Lance’s claim does make sense in a lot of oc­ca­sions, there are as many other oc­ca­sions where it

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