Archive for December, 2014

What happens if…

Saturday, December 13th, 2014

I was talking to a client the other day, and we were discussing the impact on the business that the illness of a colleague would have.  I was a little surprised that he hadn’t ‘run’ that scenario.  This person is running one part of the business which is in the middle of  series of changes that need not only managing but leading.  Not having the right hand on the tiller now might mean the need to close this part of the business.  Yes, this would adversely affect the bottom line, but there is the possibility that this element might lose money if not lead properly, which would have a worse impact and there is an argument that says that better a sure, straightforward and simple known adverse impact than an uncontrolled mess.

Sometimes stepping back and asking what would happen if …. is really important.  It is easier from outside the business (and that is why people involve people like me) but I’d argue that it is an important skill for all leaders.  If you spend your whole day up to your neck in ‘muck & bullets’ then the chances of you being blindsided by this kind of event are far higher.  Every leader needs some thinking time as opposed to doing time.

Mistakes will be tolerated…

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Those of you who are into tech will know that Amazon, having done amazingly well at with their Kindle line of eReaders, and succeeded too with their Kindle Fire tablet range, but completely tanked when it came to launching a mobile phone.  It had all sorts of clever tech but no one needed what it offered and it didn’t do the basics well enough do attract support.  The fact that they didn’t make the price attractive and offered it via a single carrier doomed it to obscurity.

However, Jeff Bezos, the CEO, isn’t apologising.  He didn’t enjoy the failure but nor did he hide from it.  In this video he reveals his philosophy that to encourage a culture that fosters innovation, you will have to make it safe for people to fail sometimes.  If everyone is petrified of failure, they will play it safe and that just gets you more of the same.  Saying it is OK to make mistakes, and making people feel safe to take risks isn’t the same thing though!  See this interview.

He, however, points out that he would never ‘bet the ranch’.  It is interesting to compare this with Steve Ballmer, the then CEO of Microsoft,  famously said that the launch of Windows 8 was a “bet-the-company” moment for Microsoft.  It failed and caused huge resentment and distrust amongst especially its corporate clients who largely ignored it.  Strangely, I use it all the time and never had an issue with it.  The trouble was it came in two ‘flavours’, the touch screen variety and the desktop one, and as long as you totally ignored the former on your traditional PC, you had a great experience, but foolishly, they majored on the sexy new interface for the former which just confused everyone and was largely irrelevant.

If you want to bring out the creative best in your team, you have to allow them to get it wrong occasionally and then help them learn from those mistakes.  Back talent and initiative.