"Those who apply themselves too closely to little things often become incapable of great things." Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Element That Hinders Accomplishment

The term 'reverse salient' is a term used in warfare that refers to a constraint or limiting process of an advancing military force. It refers to a point of weakness in an attack; or a lagging element that threatens a military force from accomplishing its mission. Inevitably, having components of any advancing system fall behind foreshadows impending doom.

A reverse salient can be broadened to encompass any system that evolves towards a goal. That is, personal growth, business development, even relationship growth. Without conscious awareness of reverse salients among these domains we risk sabotaging the whole enterprise.

A common reverse salient among individuals and groups is adaptability. Many groups and individuals become good at antiquated methods and procedures. Having become experts at old methods these groups and individuals struggle to "see" a different or better way of achieving their specified outcomes. When adaptability isn't actively nurtured, then it becomes a weak point. Being, a weak point, this reverse salient then becomes a blind spot that can leave the group or individual exposed to danger.

Almost every sales organization I have ever encountered is weak at this point. They are experts at old models that are only half-heartedly applied. Curiously enough, many organizations try to teach or coach best practices, but fail to understand that the message must be bought into and effectively sold to the sales force for the knowledge to become actionable.

To become aware and either cut or fix a reverse salient we must first become aware. To do this we must ask, what part of the process is hindering advancement of this particular enterprise? How would bringing this part of the system up to speed effect the results we are seeking? What can I do to strengthen this reverse salient and make it a strength.

Another insight into the use of the reverse salient concept has to do with zooming in. Most of us work from a strength position. That is we tend to work in things we are strong at. Being strong or effective in a profession for example would lead us to believe that a reverse salient isn't present. However, truthfully, a reverse salient is always present. To leverage this concept we need to zoom in to our specific profession. By doing so we can ask the questions previously mentioned, and inevitably surface a few reverse salients that could potentially lead to accelerated results, enhanced competence and effectiveness, if properly brought up to speed.

In a nutshell, reverse salients are sources of potential growth, and acceleration within systems that are made to advance and evolve.

- Angel Armendariz

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"We are all in Sales. Period." - Tom Peters