The global economy is a hot topic right now. Inflation, recession indicators, and interest rate hikes are being closely watched. In the U.S., there is a microscope on the Federal Reserve and their decision-making on interest rates. Setting interest rates is a lever that the Fed can use to influence the speed of the economy. In other words, it’s a condition they can control to impact the way people act in the environment. That being said, they cannot know for sure how much they will speed up or slow down the economy, if at all when using the interest rate lever. The Fed cannot push, pull, or determine how people in the economy will act and, to add more variability, adapt to other people’s actions in the economy. Fortunately, the Fed can be present to what patterns emerge when they adjust the conditions of the economy in which people operate. 

Leaders in organizations are mature enough to understand that pushing and pulling people is exhausting and unsustainable. In fact, this points to one of the main reasons that software implementations of products like SAP, Oracle, Salesforce, etc. at companies fail. People are complex and cannot be forced to see the opinions and viewpoints of others which seamlessly leads to alignment, whether that viewpoint comes from a CEO, a third-party vendor, or a front-line manager. Everyone has their own view of the world and what something means. When c-suite executives are confronting business-as-usual that is not working and need to steer a complex organization with internationally dispersed teams and multiple business units in a different direction, it can be like herding cats. 

Tilt the floor

Metaphorically speaking then, the best way to herd cats is to “tilt the floor.” In turn, the big question that executives get paid to answer is what levers can be used to tilt the floor in the direction they believe will lead to the long-term success of the enterprise? For starters, this will be very difficult, if not seemingly impossible, without determining what success looks like. Without a bright and vivid north star, knowing what patterns to look for that indicate the organization is turning in the right direction cannot be seen.  

Getting people on board the ship to help turn it in the direction the captain wants to go indicates that momentum is building, and alignment is happening. If people were pushed and pulled onto the boat, those same people will sabotage, get off at the next port, or jump ship at the first sight of danger. If people are given the option to get on the ship and a part of deciding how the ship will turn, there’s a much higher chance that what emerges will be in favor of long-term success. Executives can pull the levers that create this environment.  

Taking an unchartered course required to get to a new future instantly brings road bumps and challenges to the table. What emerges here with people in the organization will indicate if the right levers were pulled. The challenge for leaders at any level trying to interrupt what’s not working, often described as being stuck in the past, is being a match for the transformation they are out to cause. In other words, if an executive is able to do the work on themselves that allows them to set the foundation and create an environment for the long-term success and an empowered workforce to overcome inevitable challenges, the chances of winning increase significantly.  

Did the central bank set a foundation and pull the right levers for long-term success of the economy? What emerges over the next several months will tell. 

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