It was 5 pm and Christmas Eve 2008 was nearby. For about four hours I had been googling and searching for new insights and I had probably opened 20 web pages. With only a few hours before my guests would arrive for the yearly tradition of pure pleasure and reflection, I started to wonder what I was really looking for.
Before the Christmas holidays at a board meeting with the other partners, we had decided to change our course. In 2005 I acquired Accord Group Belgium, a small executive search agency. The following 3 years, I had done everything to diversify the business. By the end of 2008, I had attracted new partners – each of them colleagues who, as a client, I had learned to appreciate for their added value. It was our goal to further expand the team and to grow and become a broad HR Service provider, aimed at supporting managers in the development of their organization. However diversifying does not necessarily mean having more competitive power. It only means being able to compete in more market segments and as such spreading the risk. For 3 years already, I had been looking for new insights on people and organizations, as I had in many ways a fundamental issue with the current HR practices. They were good, however, not good enough.
In a business, which is all about people, I had personally experienced the consequences of making the wrong choices. Not just for the individual, but frequently for an entire organization. I had witnessed to which drama’s this could lead. After a professional career of 25 years, I felt, one way or another, that it was now or never to do things differently and in a better way.
This book is the translation to today’s economic reality of a one-page essay by Elliot Jaques that inspired me that Christmas Eve of 2008. Just as important are my personal previous experiences in business, which made me look for these new insights.
I have met leaders with vision, and leaders without. People who know how to inspire and who can bring an organization to the next level. Others, who keep holding on to what is, who have an internal focus and indulge in so much navel-gazing that they always point at others to be the cause of problems.
I asked Why? a lot, and I still do. Because of what Accord Group Belgium does, it intrigues me why so many times organizations go wrong. Being good no longer was good enough, and when for a brief moment on Christmas Eve I read Elliott Jaques notes describing the interaction between the complexity of a problem and a person’s capability, I knew. Suddenly, all my questions were answered.
Five years of growth with Accord Group Belgium based on this framework, further research on the why, and new insights have finally led to this book. I try to give you an insight on how people form an image of the external reality, and from there develop strategies to grow their organization by maximally aligning people, work, and strategy.