A Turnaround Mindset

Photo by Jim Wilson on Unsplash



After about three decades of working almost entirely in a consulting capacity, I was thinking about all the miles and miles of work I’ve done. This thinking started to make me feel more than a bit tired.

I then realized I am tired because I have done so many turnaround projects, and every turnaround takes a little something out of your soul that you don’t ever get back.




A Turnaround Mindset

As I’ve thought about it some more, I realize I actually have a Turnaround Mindset. This is perhaps why sometimes I have seemed to almost attract projects that were turnarounds.

So what does it mean to have a Turnaround Mindset? I am not exactly sure I can answer that question with any degree of precision. I think it is being willing to push through all the resistant organizational forces that continually attempt to normalize the status quo, even when the status quo isn’t working any more. This happens simply because human systems of all types resist being tinkered with.

Having a Turnaround Mindset means having a unique skill-set — I would even say a unique personality — in which you identify persistent issues and apply a kind of leadership that requires persuading others to persevere and work toward implementing changes that are never going to be easy, but will certainly be worth the effort. These turnaround efforts start when things are not going well at all and will often be the hardest projects that the people you’re leading have ever worked on.


Turnarounds and Your Soul

The thing about having a Turnaround Mindset is that you will inevitability find yourself doing more and more turnarounds, simply because most people don’t know how to successfully complete turnarounds and also generally abhor them. So, you will find yourself being called the Turnaround Expert in a particular industry or speciality area.

When you start becoming known as a Turnaround Expert you will have to start being a lot more careful what turnaround efforts you take on because, as I mentioned above, each and every turnaround you lead will take something out of your soul, and these small wounds will never heal. They will add up. Eventually they will start adding up to a certain aggregate weariness. This is when you’ll know you need a real break from turnarounds for awhile, but, as a person with a Turnaround Mindset, I can tell you it’s hard to make that shift even temporarily.


Why the World Needs Turnaround People

If you have a Turnaround Mindset (and you either do or you don’t; it is a pretty hard skillset to learn; it may be more nature than nurture) you will likely be in demand in many professional circles. You will be needed— that is for certain — but you won’t always be adored, since most everyone will only enjoy the successful results of your turnarounds: those whom you work with on turnarounds generally won’t enjoy the turnaround process, and they won’t enjoy the inevitable failures, since not everything can be turned around.

This reality is, without Turnaround People a lot of organizations would continue on in very broken ways, and that is really a shame for these organizations, and even worse for most of the people who work in them.


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