Right First Time or Rapid Failure?

Where I work, we aspire to be right first time. I’ve been thinking a lot about the merits or otherwise of that aspiration. Talking with a good friend the other day, he pointed me to this wonderful quote:

I’ve missed over 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

Michael Jordan

A long time ago, I found something hidden away in our leadership capabilities. I’ve lived by this for years and I love it.

Expects and encourages rapid failure in order to succeed

Right first time v rapid failure. Can you help balance that dilemma?

Visible leadership is great – can we have some please?

I hear a lot of talk about the importance of visible leadership, I expect you do too. My experience shows me that’s about as far as it goes. I don’t see much of it. Talk visible, be invisible. How might we address this? Here’s a short note you can copy, personalise and send to a senior leader in your organisation. I’m trying it out on a few people, and have had some positive reactions and some silence so far, will let you know what more happens when it does. It would be great if you use this and share any feedback with us.

Visible Leadership is Great! Can we have some please?

Survival and growth will come from positive mindful, awareness connecting people to each other and to the good things we can do together. Barack Obama conveys the idea of positive realism in a very tough environment.

It requires great leading to accept the problems we face, to stay positive and to keep engaging others. It demands sincere interest in what is happening to those around you and outside your circle. It means asking your colleagues good questions and listening respectfully to their answers and showing them you heard. It means that you must choose to notice the positive achievements and possibilities in every situation as well as the difficulties. It means that we must remember the real social value that the firms we work for bring to people and we must be grateful that we have the strength and capability to achieve greatness again.

Most of all it means repeated, positive action. It means you and me, and others who care, now, together. It would be fantastic to see you around.

Have a great day.

The Bicycle v The Taxi

Last I heard we’re supposed to be watching the pennies very carefully. Quite right too. When I work in London I cycle to and from the office. It’s only 15 miles each way. It keeps me fit, and it’s a very low cost form of travel.

Don’t panic, I’m not advocating that we all cycle to work.

A few days ago I arrived for work on my bicycle. Keep fit, low cost. Later that morning I had to step out of the building for some fresh air and a coffee. As I left I watched one of our directors hail a taxi right outside our head office and hop in.

Hmmm. OK, maybe he was going on a personal errand in work hours and just happened to be dressed in a suit and carrying business papers. Maybe he’s not going to claim that taxi fare on expenses.

Whatever, I couldn’t help but marvel at the insensitivity. We’re trying to slash cost to the bone, redeploying people, removing contractors, focussing only on the essential. Quite right too. And yet visible leadership behaviour in this case equals jumping into one of the most expensive modes of transport on a per mile basis, right outside the door of head office. Next time I suggest at least walk a block away from the front door and get in where no one can see you. That way lies a tiny bit of keep fit, even if the low cost bit still proves elusive.