I've been whirling in the eddy of thought on heresy of late. Funny though, as I bring it up in conversation and ask people about it I usually get a negative reaction. Is it the whole burning-at-the-stake bit?? I wonder. Thankfully, while the figurative stake burning may occasionally still occur, we have been spared in modern times at least of the gruesome fate for those in our midst that are driven to speak the voice that pokes the bee-hive.In this day and age when we are deluged with mass marketing and media "message," rooting out what is authentic and truth is daunting in the least. Worse yet are the posers; masquerading the "message" as heresy to gin up some contrived counter cultural tipping point. The reality is though that good old fashioned scare-the-whits-out-of-you heresy is needed, now more than ever. Any organization from time to time requires renewal and it is the heretic in our midst that is speaking truth about what we've become is the lone voice providing the truth for us to see through the filters of complacency. Let's face it though, it's often not easy to hear. In fact, it's much easier to castigate the heretic than to truly listen. What gets in the way of hearing the heretic truth?
Ego, comfort, profit.
Case in point, consider Starbuck's situation: CEO Howard Schultz likely sensed long before the slide began that Starbucks had lost their way. In a telling and well publicized news event, a memo "leaked" out under his authorship that derided the direction of the company by the board, current CEO and wall street experts, all the while losing it's coffee culture culture in the process. He made the observation that it doesn't even smell like coffee in a Starbucks anymore when you walk in the door. Starbucks had lost sight of it's Hedgehog concept. Yet Howard's protestations seemed to have been largely ignored for too long until trouble was brewing (sorry, couldn't help myself...). This is ultimately the risk we run in being complacent in our success; that we may have missed the window of opportunity to renew and sustain it. Time will tell however even with Howard back at the helm as his efforts may ultimately be in vain.
What can we learn?
Heresy is necessary to our survival and renewal. Listen for where it is being silenced, be it on your team, organization or community. Pay particularly close attention to the motives. If the altruism is outweighed by the self-serving, proceed very cautiously and question the authenticity. However, if through the often painful examination, the aim is honorable then take the message to heart. The truth you hear likely bears the DNA of the organization's destiny in renewed mission.