During the whole thing they talk about what it will take for us to get there. Near the end of the main presentation they talk about how they will need to go from Conservative to Collaborative. While I liked what they said, I felt a very important piece of the puzzle was missing: The human part. If they don’t get that right, the other won’t work out.
And then “Larry” got up at the end and quoted Seth Godin’s post in which describes how when a company grows in size, it slows down. Bureaucracy, policies, rigidity, and the fear of failure increases.
Mix all these things together and you discover that going forward, each decision pushes the organization toward do-ability, reliability, risk-proofing and safety…
Even really good people, really well-intentioned people, then, end up in organizations that plod toward mediocre, interrupted by random errors and dropped balls.
This can be fixed. It can be addressed, but only by a never-ending fight for greatness
Seth presents the solution by saying “Go for greatness.” And I completely agree. Yet if we stick someone in a horrible environment and say, “Be Great!” and we will find that almost all of the time, they will either a) be sucked back down to mediocrity or b) be so inspired that they leave and are great somewhere else. Why focus on employee effectiveness when the environment they are in will not allow them to be great?
Most organizations have painted themselves into a corner so much so, that it is nearly impossible to be great as a company or allow their employees be great. The desire is there, yet because of the way they are set up and the way they function, they can NEVER reach the height they would like to. It will be impossible. I have seen enough companies go through this that I can be that definitive.
The Missing Piece
Larry went on to say that, “We want a challenge. We need to take risks.”
He then talked about the three great challenges NASA engineers need to overcome: schedule, technical, cost. These are seen among the engineers as the greatest challenges to innovation and delivering on their goals. As I was thinking, “No it’s not,” he came up with a fourth one: Relationships. “If we aren’t working on this leg of the stool – probably the hardest of the four – we are not going to get there.”
If we don’t create an environment of relationships that is toxic and non-trusting, I don’t care how tight the schedule is, how technically advanced the solutions are, or how cheap they may be. If the environment is not conducive to allowing the employees to be great, then even great solutions will hit a brick wall. Granted, the final solutions that will emerge may be mediocre and suffice, but they won’t be High-Fidelity: achieving the level they know they are capable of.
What is the Solution?
Create a different environment that makes it EASY to think and act differently, to take on a challenge, to take risks, etc.
If you don’t change the environment, change will be slow, frustrating, and expensive.
So our focus needs to be on creating an environment that will allow us to create High-Fidelity companies.