Submitted by: Brian Shapiro, President, Shapiro Communications

When is it time to lead or when is it time to follow?  As business author Daniel Pink describes in his book Drive, “An algorithmic task is one in which you follow a set of established instructions down a single pathway to one conclusion.   That is, there is an algorithm for solving it.  A heuristic task is the opposite.  Precisely because no algorithm exists for it, you have to experiment with possibilities and devise a novel solution.”

For a business, doing what is asked can be critical to maintaining the consistency and quality customers expect.  Doing what is asked can assure that what you provide meets the expectations of those who are seeking it.  For employees, knowing what to do and how to do is equally valuable for maintaining a positive workplace atmosphere, which benefits all parties.  At the same time, given this consistently changing social, emotional, and political landscape, it is also extremely wise to do some trail blazing ourselves, to test new approaches, not simply to see if they work, but also to discover what may come out of the process.

As we complete what was undoubtedly a most challenging year, where change was literally forced on just about everyone, I feel a telling question arises for 2012:  What is the most effective way for organizations to proceed in this spectacular transforming landscape?  Should we try to find a formula that we can fit within or that fits our goals and/or needs, or should we try to develop our own formula and create something special and different? 

Daniel Pink argues that the key to long-term success for any business is to cultivate an environment that is more heuristic based, rather than algorithmic.  I agree with his assessment and would caution that too much change at once can unnerve even the most loyal and faithful customer, employee, or investor.  My suggestion, be it a simple one, is to trust yourself.  Clearly, you must be doing something right just to be in business, so that right there is a testament to yourself.  This may be the best time ever to trust yourself and your business instincts.  You may be your best resource.  You may be your best formula.  You may be your best risk.  To that I ask, “What else is there right now?” 

Brian Shapiro, President, Shapiro Communications, providing organizations with fun and engaging communication skills training centered around an enlivening, entertaining, and professionally produced theatrical performance about common workplace communication challenges. (215) 805-1695.