Belief makes the impossible possible. And belief is an incredibly human quality, which is another reason why organisations looking to transform business results or survive economic downturns need to pay greater attention to their people.
I don't think it will surprise anyone that I am passionate in my belief that business is about people, and I don't mind repeating ad nauseam that, even with the best plant and equipment, the latest technology and the best systems, a business cannot survive without people. People are the essential ingredient for success. That is why I gave my primary platform the title "Lighting the Fuse", based on the Mac Anderson quotation, "People are like dynamite; the power is on the inside and nothing happens until you light the fuse." That simple sentence gives a more informed insight into what is necessary to implement change, than whole business school libraries of management books.
For most people the fuse is either belief or appreciation, or possibly a combination of the two. Henry Ford recognised the power of belief when he said, "Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right." It is, however, only with belief that you can even try.
This certainly seems to be something President Obama understands very well. I was amazed to read his statement yesterday that, "today I'm pledging to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term in office. This will not be easy. It will require us to make difficult decisions and face challenges we've long neglected. But I refuse to leave our children with a debt that they cannot repay -- and that means taking responsibility right now, in this administration, for getting our spending under control." At a time when the US has a record debt and is undertaking trillions more, when 10% of federal revenues is already going towards interest payments, this is an incredible statement, right up there with Kennedy's planning to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Yet there are two significant things to note about it:
1. It is a pledge.
2. He expects a second term in office!
Based on his remarkable track record who would bet against either?
This is really 'lighting the fuse' but what stands out most, is the stark contrast between this approach and that of business leaders who, while talking glibly about the end of the recession, continue to perpetuate it with their employee reduction programmes. Obama clearly understands something business leaders do not; that, as Bob Nelson put it, "You get the best efforts from others not by lighting a fire under them, but by lighting a fire in them."