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Slow Is Smooth Smooth Is Fast, Improve Engagement And Accountability In Your Organization



Slow Is Smooth Smooth Is Fast: I wrote an article titled “9 Navy SEAL Sayings That Will Improve Engagement And Accountability In Your Organization” the week before last.

It was so well-received that I decided to write a follow-up article about leading organisational transformation – a topic that affects every company on the planet.

In the modern, twenty-first-century organisation, leadership and management are arguably more complex than they have ever been. And one of the most difficult aspects of leadership to master is leading through change.

During my time with the Navy SEAL Teams, I had my first taste of organisational transformation. After 9/11, the US military essentially entered these conflicts as a command-and-control 20th-century organisation that was slow-moving, over-managed, under-led, and rigid.

And we quickly realised that, in order to keep up with the pace of these wars, we needed to start redesigning our structures, processes, internal and external communication strategies, and the way we work across silos in order to keep up with a very decentralised enemy. We, too, had to become more decentralised and agile.

Slow Is Smooth Smooth Is Fast 9 Navy SEAL Sayings That

Slow Is Smooth Smooth Is Fast

Structure and process changes eventually led to a shift in mindset and culture, as they do in any organisation. Why? Because it takes time for behaviours and mindsets to align with the “new way of doing things,” culture transformation occurs near the end of a change effort rather than at the beginning.

Surprisingly, many people believe the Navy SEAL Ethos was created when we first started in the early 1960s. That isn’t the case at all. In 2005, during a leadership offsite, we developed our ethos. We had been moving at warp speed for four years when we realised we had never really defined who we are, what we stand for, or why we exist (on paper). The ethos is essentially a condensed version of our goal, vision, purpose, and culture statement.

The following quotations are taken from the Navy SEAL Ethos and other Naval Special Warfare ideologies. These sayings will boost your organization’s ability to drive positive change if they are properly adopted and used.

1. Make a move, shoot a shot, and communicate.

Each team member must be able to manoeuvre, shoot, and communicate in a chaotic setting to be an effective combat unit. The value of communication cannot be overstated. During the tumult and stress of organisational transformation, it’s no different.

According to McKinsey & Company, 70% of organisational transformation attempts fail to reach their objectives, owing in large part to inadequate communication both vertically and horizontally. Failure is almost certain when the vision and purpose for change (as well as the methods and tactics required to achieve that vision) are not well conveyed.

2. My honour and character are unwavering.

For successfully leading through change and ensuring a high level of involvement, trust and accountability are essential. On and off the battlefield, these behaviours must begin at the top and be owned by everybody.

For high-performance teams facing the battlefield of change, leadership character and integrity are critical.

3. I’ll never give up.

This is the mindset of students who make it through the SEAL selection and training process. Typically, organisational change begins with a fundamental shift in leadership thinking. Leaders and managers must begin to see their surroundings through new eyes in order to create the new vision and work backwards to find the best path to mission achievement.

Organizational change, on the other hand, usually takes longer and has higher hard and emotional costs than we estimate. Change weariness creeps in, and even the most well-intentioned businesses will often give up before reaching the finish line.

4. Don’t run yourself to death.

Slow is smooth, and smooth is swift, according to the SEALs. That’s how motions and actions become ingrained in muscle memory, which is critical in high-speed combat. When we’re on an enemy target, we move fluidly and dynamically, assessing risk and employing speed and aggression only when necessary.

Organizational transformation fails when firms jump to step 5 of the process too rapidly, ignoring important factors like a shared vision and culture. They flee to their deaths, and the transformation process comes to a halt.

5. Even in the most trying of circumstances, the legacy of my comrades keeps me going.

In the darkest of times, high-performing teams rely on one another. You engage in combat to protect your teammates on your left and right. They do the same thing. We develop successful teams that are bigger than the sum of their parts by combining these overlapping sectors of performance.

The majority of the workforce must be actively engaged and participate in the process for organisational change to be successful. Unfortunately, according to Gallop study from 2017, only 15% of the worldwide workforce is engaged, with the majority disengaged or actively disengaged (working against the organization, especially during transformation). For change efforts to succeed, engagement must be a managerial priority.

6. We prepare for war and fight to be victorious.

SEAL training is commonly regarded as the world’s most difficult special operations selection procedure. What most people don’t know is that joining the Teams makes the training significantly more difficult and intricate. And the stakes are enormous in this post-9/11 world. During training and war, more SEALs have given their lives than ever before. During Hell Week, my BUD/S class leader (the highest-ranking officer in the training class) died. Because it must properly reflect the demands of real battle, our training is perilous.

Organizations that are undergoing big changes – or full-scale transformation – must prepare for combat in order to achieve the intended outcome. Accountability is impossible to achieve unless the team has the necessary training and resources. It’s a pipe dream to expect staff to accept new systems, methods, or even ways of thinking without making the necessary investments in professional development.

7. A turd cannot be polished.

Please pardon my jargon, but this is a critical issue. This was something the professors used to say about pupils who kept making the same mistakes or who didn’t act with the necessary degree of teamwork and humility.

Remember the employees who are actively disengaged that I mentioned earlier? During change attempts, they operate against the organisation. They are frequently revered because of their subject area expertise, but they are also a source of toxicity. These sceptics must either join the team or be eliminated. And, in my experience, turning these people into change evangelists is rare.

8. I will get back up if I am knocked down. Every single time.

The SEAL mindset is built on resiliency. Our country wants us to be stronger physically and intellectually than our adversaries. That is why, only throughout the training phase, we make so many sacrifices. We never stop fighting, whether we are the most competent warfighters on the battlefield or not. Ever.

This is something that resilient companies are aware of. They are paranoid to a healthy degree and are always watching the horizon for threats and opportunities. They recover from adversity in a stronger state than before. Organizational change is about establishing resilient teams with the skills, resources, and mindset to proactively confront the problems that lie ahead, rather than reacting to the changes we face today.

9. I am not going to fail.

The Navy SEAL Ethos concludes with this statement. Do SEALs ever make mistakes? Yes, of course. And if we do, there will undoubtedly be severe consequences. This is a statement of aspiration. Our drive and willingness to keep going forward is where we do not fail.

Success is more likely to be the result when leaders face change and lead from the front with this approach. It’s critical to visualise the win – and to enable the team to do the same – if you want to be successful.

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