Gabriele Oettingen is a psychology professor at New York University who’s studied human motivation for the past 20 years. In her recent book, Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation, Oettingen states:
“Dreaming is important; dreaming is a way we can mentally explore future possibilities. For that, dreaming is very good. Where we run into trouble, is when we forget about the obstacles and temptations that arise along the way.”
Think back to the last goal your organisation set. You likely had a strategic plan to accompany the vision so organisational resources did not go to waste. What most strategic plans lack is the recognition that with each initiative brought forward, something about the old process is going to have to change. As many say, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again expecting different results.”
So why are our organisational dreams hindering change? For a dream to become reality, there are a lot of moving parts to secure. Is your dream SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound); do you have the organisational support to facilitate change, and most importantly; what are the obstacles that stand in your way from reaching your dream? Many project management processes such as risk planning and identification, configuration management, traceability, and governance, allow for the identification of obstacles. But that is not enough. Oettingen stresses that success comes from gaining a better understanding of these obstacles, and the behaviours and actions that are needed to overcome them. To embed change effectively, dreams and the vision have to be equally matched by the processes needed to tackle reality and obstacles. It’s this combination of emotional engagement with process that lies at the heart of successful change.
Organisational dreams pull start-ups from obscurity to notoriety, and shift organisational culture. Each decision-maker in the business world needs to be constantly dreaming of how to make their organisation better, but Oettinger warns that “merely dreaming about the future actually makes people more frustrated… and less likely to achieve their goals… sapping our energy to perform the hard work of meeting challenges and achieving goals in real life.” Recognising that a dream requires planning, executive and team support, and resources, is essential. Balance this with the people skills, motivations, and energy to overcome obstacles, and success is within our grasp.
“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” – Japanese Proverb
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