Correcting organizational slices and hooks in real time

On a golf course, many golfers aim far left of their target because they know they have a slice swing. Others aim way right knowing they have a hook swing. Either way the goal is to hit the “middle” of the fairway. Of course, that’s easier said than done.

In a somewhat similar manner, start-up companies (or fast-growing organizations) need to understand their organizational tendencies. Every business has biases in its perspective with different strengths and weaknesses. In my golf analogy, companies can be a “slicing” organization or a “hooking” 😉 organization. Yet, both their targets (goals) are still the middle of the fairway — on the short grass.

One of my management methods has been to “over-correct” the tendencies of our groups, aiming far to one side or the other of the target, expecting to land somewhere in the middle. This is because embedded organizational behavior and biases are difficult to change.

Continuing with the golf analogy, when a swing coach makes the slightest change to your back swing, it feels completely wrong. Internal perception of anything different other than ingrained muscle memory feels completely exaggerated. Organizations all have a lot of “muscle memory”.  People are used to working a certain way, and change is uncomfortable. In order to be innovative, however, organization must be able to change old perspectives and habits quickly. Aiming farther left or right of the target is one way of recalibrating to the target in a fast-moving industry.