Innovation starts with leadership. The foundation of growth, increase profits and productivity are a clear vision, a prepared and enabled workforce, a culture of accountability, appropriate rewards systems and an environment that fosters creativity while preserving the values of the organization. Leadership that gets results is leadership that knows the way, shows the way and has prepared their team so they, as leaders, can get out of the way. Are you doing the same thing you have always done and expecting different results? Consider the story below and see if it sounds like behavior and processes in your organization today:

Two Bears: A Story About Change And Obsolescence

(An adaptation based on a story by Father Anthony de Mello)

A guide friend of mine tells the story of two hunters that came up to Alaska from the lower 48 to partake in their annual bear hunt. There are few roads to access prime bear hunting territory in the Agoolawok region, so a guide with a plane fit for the task is essential. A favorite aircraft for bush pilots in the region is the DE Havilland Beaver; a twin engine, amphibious plane that is capable on land, water or snow.

The two hunters hired out an experienced guide to take them in for a 6 day excursion. He dropped them off with their gear in the heart of bear country promising to pick them up at a designated time and place at the end of their outing.

It was a successful week and each hunter had bagged a decent size brown bear. They had field dressed the animals and, as agreed, the guide was at the meeting place to pick them up. Looking over the load including the two bears the guide suggested that the load was too heavy and they would have to leave one bear behind. Somewhat taken back one of the hunters proclaimed that the guide they had last year was very willing to take them out with the same load; the same two hunters with the same gear and two bear about the same size. Hesitant, the pilot looked the load over and did a little math.

“Are you sure it was the same load with about the same size bears?” the pilot asked.

“Yep” persisted the hunter. “Same stuff. I may have put on a few pounds in a year” he joked “but otherwise all the same”.

“Same aircraft?” the pilot wanted to be sure.

“Yep, DE Havilland Beaver” the hunter replied.

The pilot finally gave the ok. “Load ‘er up”.

They loaded up the plane and took off. Sure enough, about a mile out the aircraft didn’t have enough lift to get up over the next hillside. Fortunately the pilot was able to set the plane down safely in a clearing. It was a bit of a rough landing but no one was hurt and there was no damage to the plane. The two hunters climbed out and scrambled up the hillside to get their bearings.

“Where do you suppose we are?” one hunter asked the other.

“Best I can tell, just about a mile from where we had to set down last year!”

Are there instances in your organization where you are loading the “same two bears” over and over and expecting different results? Look at your business and see what processes, behaviors and routines are standing in the way of improving your bottom line profits. Get your leaders and your people involved and focus on driving business results.

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About the Author
Max Frei
Max’s career has been focused on personal and organizational effectiveness. His passion for the work led him to achieve stunning success in building sales cultures, increasing productivity, and managing change. He has many years’ experience as a facilitator and advisor to business leaders and organizations in the public and private sector.

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