Author speaks at Bay Area Economic Club

ESCANABA – The Bay Area Economic Club welcomed Craig Hickman, New York Times bestselling author and head of the Chicago office of Partners in Leadership, at Bay College Thursday night.

PIL is leadership training and management consulting company. PIL’s programs are based the books “The Oz Principle,” “Change the Culture, Change the Game,” and “How did that Happen.” Hickman co-authored the “The Oz Principle” with the founders of PIL, Roger Connors and Tom Smith.

The programs are designed to shift organizational culture and increase accountability.

“If people don’t know what they’re accountable for they can’t take accountability. Human beings want to take accountability in general, but they don’t. They unplug, they disengage, because there’s a disconnect,” said Hickman.

According to Hickman, organizations frequently confuse their members by developing large lists of goals. Keeping a list of three to five key results limits confusion and makes the members of that organization better understand the role they play to reach those results.

“When I’m talking about key results I’m talking about the must deliverables. I’m not talking about goals; strategies. I’m not talking about anything aspiration. I’m talking about results the organization has to achieve,” said Hickman.

Achieving those results requires looking at the beliefs held by people in the organizations.

“Experience shapes beliefs, beliefs drive actions, actions produce results,” said Hickman.

Beliefs, such as how to stay “off the radar” in a company, can help or hinder an organization from reaching its key results. However, not all beliefs held by members of an organization come from the experiences of individuals. Frequently, beliefs are caused by the negative stories told by other people.

“People come into the organization, they hear the stories, they shape beliefs, they didn’t even have the direct experience,” said Hickman.

To combat the negative stories that are being told and shift the organizational culture, Hickman suggest storytelling.

“You start using storytelling. You start using the creation of experiences to shape belief. You start doing it deliberately. That’s how you shift culture and that’s how you shift culture quickly,” he said.

Once an organization knows its key results and has a culture that produces those results, the people in that organization can become accountable if they are willing to be in the right mindset.

To whose programs work to increase accountability within illustrate the mindset people need to have to be to be accountable, Hickman uses a model where a line divides the accountable, empowered person from someone who shifts blame and makes excuses.

“Above the line there’s this sense of ‘I can create my own future,’ below the line is ‘I can’t do anything, everything is outside of my control, I’m powerless,'” he said.

Hickman doesn’t believe that being below the line is bad – sometimes it can be therapeutic – however, staying in that mindset keeps people from being accountable and producing results.

“We’ll spend five minutes below the line. We’ll spend ten minutes below the line. Let’s get it off our your chest, but we know that if we stay here nothing is going to happen,” said Hickman. “We’re not going to change things. We’re not going to get where we want to go.”