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Don’t cancel out mavericks

Blair McPherson - former Director, Author and Blogger

Out of the mayhem of World War Two was created an unorthodox plan from an unlikely source by some indisciplined, insubordinate, mavericks.

The war in North Africa was not going well. The enemy were better equipped and well led. Moral amongst the allies was low. The top brass were all to aware of the consequences for the war of losing this strategic and symbolically important campaign. In such circumstances they were prepared to consider an unorthodox plan even if it originated from unpromising quarters.

An eccentric young officer, on experiencing the fighting  first hand, concludes that accepted war methods were not working. He came up with a radical plan. He fights the hierarchy for permission to recruit a very different type of soldier , to fight a very different type of war, using very different tactics. Ultimately it is a success.

Organisations assume that those at the top will come up with the strategies to overcome the challenges the organisation is facing. After all that is their job, their reason for being. These leaders tend to fall back on strategies that have worked in the past. If the strategy at first does not succeed then they look to how to improve its implementation, has the plan been fully understood, has it been effectively communicated, have we the right people in place, and finally they call for greater effort.

Sometimes the situation is so dire that the hierarchy is prepared to listen to ideas that are unorthodox and come from unconventional sources. Every organisation has its mavericks, those who delight in bending the rules and bypassing line management. Those who can see ways of getting the job done, and do it, preferring to seek forgiveness rather than ask permission.  They are creative, bold and brimming with enthusiasm. They can also be a liability, an unpredictable lose cannon.

An organisation can spend time and energy suppressing Mavericks or find ways to utilise their unconventional approach ,their creativity and their enthusiasm for example putting them in charge of working groups tasked to think outside the box.

Don’t wait till you’re desperate to listen to ideas from those doing the job.

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