In an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, McDonald’s Knows It’s Losing the Burger Battle—Can it Come Back, the chief executive suggests, “the company is trying new things and rethinking legacy beliefs.”

That sounds like a good idea in a world where a bad case of creeping irrelevance is hard to contain.

We all eventually face the McDonald’s problem. And no, I’m not referencing the gut-wrenching outcome of food delivered fast and cheap at scale. Rather, it’s coming to grips with the possibility that the thinking that has defined our actions for years or decades may no longer apply.

We like patterns and routines in our lives, and when conditions change to render those patterns and routines as anachronisms, we’re in trouble. Our legacy beliefs gave rise to our present day situation. They propelled us nicely along on our journey thus far, but now, we find ourselves sputtering and pulling over to the side of the road watching the world go by and wondering what happened.

For many businesses, the legacy beliefs that gave rise to the idea and approach that define today’s strategy are the seeds of the firm’s demise. It’s difficult for businesses to let go, much less change. Not impossible, but it takes leadership courage to effectively put a knife in the heart of those legacy beliefs and move forward.

Help Wanted: Leaders with courage.

For us as individuals, the process of throwing away the governing assumptions of our life is every bit as gut wrenching as one of those meals referenced above. It takes personal courage to look in the mirror and admit that what worked for us no longer applies. Every working professional will face, has faced or is facing this issue in our world of change.

What’s Moore’s law equivalent for job skills?

The Bottom-Line for Now:

Some people and some firms do navigate the transition. The business leaders I’ve worked with who have or are succeeding in challenging their own and their organization’s legacy beliefs act with courage and focus for the excitement of learning, discovery, and challenge. They push the fear of change out of the way. Instead of viewing change and learning as a grind, they emphasize this work as creation. We all prefer creating versus grinding.

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Art of Managing: Change Your Field of View

Leadership Caffeine: The Human Cost of Mismanaging Change

Leadership Caffeine: Change or Learn to Say, “Would You Like Fries with That?