Monday, 29 June 2009

Michael Jackson, passion, and box ticking

We will probably soon be observing an expression of public grief about the tragic death of Michael Jackson that could well match, or even excede, that of when Princess Diana died. Now doubt large quantities of creative energy & financial resources will now be expended on paying tribute to the talent and life of Michael Jackson. The news is reporting today that copies of his albums have sold out in shops across the World. Factory runs will have been rescheduled to produce 1000s of t-shirts, calendars and books, I suspect.

This is not meant to sound cynical. Along with millions of people I too am sad at the passing of his creative genius in both music and dance (as Germain Greer chose to highlight). And I appreciate the need to grasp at some of his magic through photographs, CD's and memorabilia.

But all this has got me pondering about passion.

How many organisations can hope to get even a smidgeon of the passion, loyalty and verve that Michael Jackson provoked in his lifetime and now in his death? How many chief executives appear on T-shirts, how many Annual Reports are sold out, how many poems are written about the company procedures? How many company songs are sung more like John Redwood singing the Welsh National Anthem than the people spontaneously singing Jackson's songs outside the hospital where he died?

Daft questions of course - but I am left wondering whether in the pursuit of the rational, the logical, and the detail something has been lost? Have organisations now become so organised... proceduralised, quantified and target driven... that passion has been left out of the equation? Where is the poetry, passion and verve in most organisations?

I suspect it is still there albeit buried under box-ticking protocols and well researched (but essentially dry and dessicated) business plans.
For me the mark of an exceptional leader is one who can balance the need for organisation with the need for passion.

Therein lies much success, I suspect.

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