Our Principle Based Management™ framework is rooted in proven principles that have fueled the ongoing success of Stand Together and our partners. Many of these principles are highlighted throughout the Principle Based Management booklet. Over the next few posts, we’ll explore some of these principles in greater depth.
Headwinds are factors that erode the long-term opportunities and returns for a product, service, or initiative.
For example, in the context of flying, your time of arrival is significantly eroded if you are flying in a headwind. In the work of social change, rising crime statistics may become a headwind that erodes attitudes toward supporting Criminal Justice efforts.
Tailwinds are factors that increase the long-term opportunities and returns for a product, service, or initiative.
For example, after Covid forced many schools to go online, more parents and social entrepreneurs became interested in new educational offerings. For those working on educational initiatives, these changes represented tailwinds to help more families and drive a conversation about the benefits of individualized education.
Driving creative destruction
At Stand Together, we have long emphasized the importance of continually transforming so we can drive rather than fall victim to the increasing rate of creative destruction. As the speed and magnitude of change accelerates, we must have a heightened sense of urgency to not only improve but to transform our performance.
The principle of headwinds and tailwinds equips us to think through how we need to transform to succeed in a variety of ever-evolving environments. Knowledge of relevant headwinds and tailwinds allow us to modify our visions and strategies and build the right capabilities for whatever conditions exist.
External forces generate these winds, both headwinds that push against us and tailwinds that propel us forward. Winds can be generated by competition from new technologies or products, events that lead to shifts in the Overton Window, changes in partners’ or customers’ preferences, or regulatory and policy changes, among other things.
Wherever a headwind or tailwind exists it creates competitive forces in the opposite direction. That is, widespread headwinds deter new entrants, investments, and innovations. Similarly, widespread tailwinds stimulate a flood of new competitors, investments, and innovation.
What can addressing headwinds and tailwinds do for your organization?
Ongoing point of view work is an effective way to apply the principle of headwinds and tailwinds to drive creative destruction as an organization. Point of View consists of the big assumptions you believe are true and why they matter to your organization. An effective point of view will include your assessment of how you create value for others, as well as a global perspective of the factors that impact your environment and how these factors are changing. A well-rounded point of view can significantly improve decision-making on the opportunities and strategies you choose to prioritize. It can position you to adapt, respond and innovate faster in order to have the greatest impact on those you serve.
It’s important to remember that if something touches your world, you should have a point of view on it. What you focus on will depend on the specifics of your organization and will change over time, but your guiding light on developing an effective point of view should be to have shared assumptions that help your team to be entrepreneurial and understand the “why” behind what your organization does.
An Action to Take
List groups beyond your core beneficiaries who are critical to advancing your vision. Identify relevant knowledge gaps you have about these groups and methods to close these gaps.
A Question to Consider
Given creative destruction, point of view (and vision) work is never “done.” How can you foster a culture that encourages everyone to continuously learn, share, and make sense of new knowledge so that you are driving progress rather than being reactive?