At one time in our lives, most of us have believed in something that wasn’t true. Whether it was belief in the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, such harmless myths enhanced childhood and memories of our youth.
That’s not the case when it comes to myths we believe as adults, especially myths about business.
While there are several such myths, the following four examples are the most limiting to the success of an individual or organization.
1. Strategy is the most important objective.
Over the past several years there have been hundreds of business books written about strategy as well as its critical role in organizational and personal success. A quick search on Amazon for 2016 strategy books within the “Business & Money” category generated more than 1,300 results.
The typical rationale is that without a strategy your enterprise and its employees won’t know what to do or how to achieve organizational objectives.
That might be true in some instances, but the overwhelming reality is that the greatest strategy ever conceived can STILL be poorly executed; conversely, exceptional execution can succeed despite an ill-conceived strategy.
At the end of the day, execution trumps strategy every day, so if you’re going to focus on an area to improve ---make it the execution of projects and initiatives.
2. Experts have the best solutions.
It’s a romanticized ideal to think that some leader, consultant, teacher, politician or guru will descend from the mountaintop with the perfect idea needed to advance our country, organization or enterprise.
That’s a fiction.
The truth is problem solving is tough and teams make better decisions than any single individual. Another way to say it is that we’re all smarter than anyone of us.
The best ideas and solutions rarely come from the top -- they can come from anywhere and any level within an organization.
The trick is creating a culture where individuals are recognized and rewarded for freely sharing their insights and solutions.
3. We just need a big idea.
Big ideas are great but they’re not a guarantee of success. Chasing big ideas can be a worthwhile pursuit but not in a vacuum.
A big idea only matters if it’s linked to solving a big problem. Even small ideas that address a small part of a much larger issue are more valuable than some random, non-problem-solving big idea.
Problem solving and decision making are critical success skills requiring more focus and attention than “pie in the sky” ideations.
Distilling big, hairy problems down to their base elements and then incrementally solving each aspect and advancing to the next challenge is a grinding discipline that can be developed.
It’s a much surer path to success than merely chasing after the next big thing.
4. Geniuses succeed alone.
We tend to have an idealized vision of the lone inventor toiling over multiple experiments at all hours of the night when they finally stumble upon a “Eureka!” type breakthrough.
Whether it’s Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison or any other famous innovator -- none of their best inventions occurred in isolation. All innovators have relied and succeeded as a result of their respective staff and support teams around them. At the very least, they have relied on the work of their predecessors to spur innovation along.
True genius and innovation requires community.
Sharing myths around the schoolroom was fun, but having shared myths around the boardroom is a fast track to failure.