In this blog, we have been exploring the McKinsey model for change. Last week I wrote about conviction as a driver of change. This week I’m thinking about the skills you need for change. Here is a big one – the ability to see your unique strengths.
This came up during the wonderful opportunity I had to learn from Councilman Matt Zone. Councilman Zone serves Ward 15, which includes Cleveland’s Detroit Shoreway neighborhood. Despite its strong roots, the 1960s brought de-industrialization to Detroit Shoreway, and the area began to decline. Matt Zone’s leadership helped revive the neighborhood, beginning in 2004 with the vision for the Gordon Square Arts District. Major reinvestment in the community, including 5 major capital projects totaling $30M, led to economic growth and neighborhood beautification that is celebrated here and around the world (read more here).
Councilman Zone stressed that one of the most important keys for change was to focus on Detroit Shoreway’s unique strengths. But, how do you identify these unique strengths? Here are two of my favorite approaches.
Story-telling approach. Go talk to people and gather stories of impact. For example, you can ask others, “When have you felt most proud of this neighborhood?” Ask for a specific story, and then probe on the details that made the experience memorable.
Analytical approach Create a grid. Title the first column with your focus (e.g., your neighborhood), and the next 2-3 columns with competitors or other similar entities. Next, title the rows with categories. A neighborhood example might include Entertainment, Dining, Transportation, and Housing. Across the grid, fill in each cell with the strengths for each category/neighborhood. Finally, compare the columns and reflect on what stands out! The Councilman said that in the case of Gordon Square, this included structures like the historic Capitol Theatre and the Cleveland Public Theatre.
These approaches work across subjects. If you are reflecting on yourself, an organization, a neighborhood, or some other entity, the lesson is the same. Understand your unique strengths – and then use that knowledge as an input into your change journey!