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Moving from Willing and Able... to Ready

Those three words have always been tag-a-long friends, in a different order: "ready, willing, and able." Often times they are followed by "Sir!" or "Ma'am!" They have been meant to show a confidence and enthusiasm for a task, as well as the preparation to go and do the job. For some time now, I've been pretty certain that the traditional order of the words is out of sequence.

In my very first management training days at IBM at Fairfield University in Connecticut, we were exposed to Ken Blanchard's Situational Leadership concepts about "willingness" and "ability" - building a simple four-box model to look at employees and understand how to manage differently based on the situation of the individual for the task or assignment: how do you manage someone who is willing but unable, versus another who is able but unwilling? Seems ages ago, and simple in concept yet critical to make part of leadership DNA...but when you add in the concept of "Ready" we move to another plane of leadership and execution.

You can't be READY unless you are first both willing AND able. They are prerequisite. If you go into the charge without both, your state of readiness will be exposed in a flash, and likely with less than perfect results.

Why this discussion on such a simple topic, you ask? Fair enough.

I've been fortunate in my corporate career, as well as my consulting career, to go through many transformations, mergers, acquisitions, and integrations. These are the things that test situational leadership to its limits - willingness, ability, and readiness. From my experience, companies that can crack this code in critical ways succeed far more often than those who do not: culture, communication, values, consistency, process, and more. Those who can quickly get "outside of themselves" and extend this same readiness to their customers with an outside-in sense of their business and value proposition...likewise succeed at a higher and faster rate than those who focus their lens completely on themselves.

We've been going through this process ourselves for the past couple of years at MHI Global. Our focus has been intense, solely on being ready for our clients - to be able to provide them with far more value than the sum of the companies that have come together to form our merged new entity. In order to get there we have had to get our ability in line and at a world class level, in ways our clients have never seen us in total - and ensure that our internal willingness peaks to a level that ensures that we are now READY.

Have a quick look. We've launched a new company, for all practical purposes.

And we're ready. Our purpose is to help our clients Be Ready!

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