Waste and Mistakes

We spend a lot time trying to avoid these two business scourges.  The following two attachments make me think differently about both.

1. Waste:
As you will see from the video Paul Kedrosky makes an interesting argument about waste in his presentation on Google Fiber.  The take away for me was that if you are overly concerned about waste, you are not likely to get much creativity or innovation in your business.  I am not suggesting that you have accounting start wasting time or resources in the interest of innovation or creativity.  I am pretty sure Thomas Edison would not have been successful if he were worried about the cost of experimentation or the ROI on the invention of the light bulb.  I know that if I am more worried about the cost of the canvas I am trying to paint on it makes it impossible to start painting.

http://www.kauffman.org/KauffmanMultimedia.aspx?VideoId=1569798175001&type=M

2. Mistakes:
I wonder how many businesses have killed their entrepreneurial spirit by creating a scapegoat environment?  I have seen and experienced this and I know that it is the most effective killer of creativity and innovation.  I have sat through excruciatingly long steering committee meetings that go on for months (and in one case years) without solving the root causes of the issues these committees are ideally designed to fix, precisely because so many people were afraid to make a decision for fear of being blamed for the result.  Do I share in the guilt of most of the others who failed to act?  You bet!  But I have also been fitted for more than one “goat head” in my career and being proved right was very little consolation to me (or the business). In one instance I can remember being blamed for being right because I did not argue loudly enough! The attached article made me think about how differently some of the work challenges I saw in businesses might have gone if the work culture did not promote an atmosphere of ritual sacrifice.  Several companies accomplish this counter intuitive principle by celebrating failure.  Shell Oil and Etsy are just a few.  They promote a culture of blameless post-mortems.  (Etsy awards a 3 armed sweater).

http://www.inc.com/howard-greenstein/build-a-start-up-tech-culture-that-celebrates-mistakes.html

Ironically, the fear of making a mistake can actually make a mistake more likely.  Trust me, I know this.

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Dan Clark

Dan Clark

Principal of Bowline Consulting, process designer/fixer, wireless telecom veteran, addicted pick up soccer player, fly fisher, backpacker, beer brewer, guitar player, choir singer, recovering bag piper

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