- Leandro Herrero - https://leandroherrero.com -

The ‘initiative’ often lets personal commitment off the hook

For every problem, the Victorians have a building’. [1] For every idea that we need to carry forward, we invent an initiative, a platform, a vehicle. Nothing wrong with this. But, many times the initiative let’s us off the hook.

Let’s say that, after lots of discussions on innovation, the team members need to commit themselves to exploring new ways of doing things, versus carrying on doing them as they have always been done. This is so far a personal commitment: to think, to explore, to read, to evaluate, to imagine, to do something. But ‘the initiative’ kicks in: let’s have an Innovation Week, when an Innovation Committee will judge the most innovative ideas, open to all. And if it’s successful, we will repeat it two or three times a year. I am off the hook. The initiative will do the thinking, we’ll see what others say and do. My personal commitment, good as it may have been, surely cannot compete with the power of the initiative (brand it Global Initiative and it will sound more powerful, and, the more powerful, the more off the hook the individual and the individual commitment). It is a paradoxical effect that many people will hate to recognise. My God, we are so good at initiatives!

The initiative (event, committee, new team, new review process, a monthly review, task force, a new project, bringing in new consultants) may be the right thing to do, but may also be a distraction and a form of simple deferral of action in which the collective takes over the individual.

The reasons why so many internal initiatives fail are two fold: (1) There are simply too many of them competing for air time; (2) They defer decisions, postpone reality, pretend that they are useful, but then everybody gets exhausted with a ritual that has forgotten its original meaning.

Before creating a new initiative, and, I repeat, they may be necessary and a good thing, we need to think what the initiative may do for the individual commitment and the personal behaviour. Will the initiative switch off the individual thinking? Or perhaps on?

Devolving the individual accountability to a collective task may be something that happens in a subtle manner. The key is a bit of critical thinking and the non-automatic falling in love with ‘the new thing that will solve the problem’.

PS. There should be a sort of Cluttering Tax in the organization, anyway. For any new initiative, get rid of two.


ACCELERATORS from The Chalfont Project


Renew, transform, re-invent the way you do things. Organizations today need to look at better ways, alternative and innovative ways to change the status quo. It’s not about being radical for the sake of it. Only if you try radical ways will you be in a better position to find your ‘fit for purpose’ goals.

As Michelangelo said: ‘The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark’. He was a radical in the way we talk about it.


At The Chalfont Project [2], we have crafted a series of short interventions called Accelerators [3]:


There may or may not be anything obviously wrong. Or maybe there is. But this is not a good enough state of affairs.

This high intensity, accelerated intervention takes leadership teams of all levels through a process of discovery and identification of both stumbling blocks and enablers will be followed by a clear ‘so-what’ and an action plan. It results in alignment around a well crafted Game Plan that reflects where they see the organization/team/department in the short to medium term and a detailed commitment to action that can be tracked.


In this short intervention we teach you and your team Critical Thinking Methods and Questions that will help you focus your time on the things that matter, make good and fair decisions and escape the dangers of human biases. We will also help you apply these methods to your everyday challenges in your organization.

You will learn about Strategy Acid tests and many Mind Fallacies, including various biases, and the practical Critical Thinking methods that you can use to address these.


These high impact, short interventions for senior teams, will:


Contact us [4] to find out more information or discuss how we can support your business.