So, lots of people are into reality shows.  My wife and daughter love “The Amazing Race.”  But that’s not what this post is about.  I’m talking about the “real” reality.  So what is it?  Even more to the point, Is it?  Is there such a thing as reality?  Our world deals in so much “spin” that it’s hard to know what is real and what’s not.  So from a business perspective here is my take on reality.  Reality is a combination of what you stand for and what you do.  Lots of organizations tell the world they’re one thing (surprise, there’s a lot of spin in the marketing world) and act in a way that doesn’t quite fit the message.  Often they even share this great marketing message with their employees but the processes and systems; incentives and management style don’t encourage them to live that message.  The result: a disconnect with the customer, disgruntled and/or disillusioned employees and a bottom line that is literally at the bottom.

So what do you do?  It seems simple enough, just live your brand.  Be your message.  But knowing something and doing it aren’t the same thing. There is a definite knowing-doing gap in the business world.  We know we have a problem but aren’t willing to take a hard look at it and take the long term actions needed to resolve them.  Instead we continue to put band-aids on gaping wounds.  Discounts, sales, wild and crazy advertisements, new logos, new programs, flavor of the month training, benchmarking against the competition… we send people to conferences, we hold meetings (and more meetings, and more meetings)… but we fail to connect the pieces.  We talk and talk about innovation but do we innovate?  Yes, there are the few, but I’m talking about YOU.

Is it a leadership issue?  Yes.  The answer in a word is “courage.”  The courage to acknowledge that what got us here won’t create the organization we want to be (if we’ve ever taken the time to decide what that is).  With size often comes inertia and underlying that inertia is the fear of losing what we have. But as in overcoming any obstacle you first must acknowledge that obstacle.

Are you afraid of the future? Do you know your reality? Really?