Please read Organizational Leadership – Introduction,
Organizational Leadership – Establishing Rules, and Organizational Leadership – Empowering Your Experts prior to reading this post.
We are now at the point where we have an executive level of
leadership and an expert level of execution. We have Governance to tie them
together and we have simple rules to guide their actions.
The next step is sharpening the double edge sword –
accountability and creativity.
No one will question the value of metrics. They provide a
means of effectively measuring progress towards a goal. If you have someone
that is good at identifying the elements that represent real progress, then you
have someone with a real talent. What usually happens is a measure to some
attainable objective which aligns with what the expert level worker believes is
the right thing to do, regardless of the communicated direction. Worthwhile metrics zero in on definitive actions
and process advancement. But these metrics are looking for something within a
boundary. Something expected to meet a theory or hypothesis. It is black and white.
There is nothing bad about this.
Now suppose you are
at the grocery store. You walk to the sliding doors and they open and you feel
the light breeze of the different pressure settings. You see the cash registers
first and they are buzzing with action. Beep, beep, beep, do you have any
coupons? You step to the right and see about 20 aisles of food. Do you need 20
aisles worth of food for survival? No, you probably don’t even need a complete
one aisle. But you have choice. You have items nature never intended – hello hot
pocket and fruit roll up. You have items that will be offered for this month
and never see the light of day again. You have some items that will catch on.
You have perishables and goods with distant expiration dates. But really what
you have is calculated risk. You have the acceptance of mistakes. Why? Because
if you didn’t try new approaches, the grocery store would still be one aisle.
The other side of metrics is deliberate risk taking and
mistake making. Your experts should be encouraged to fail. And they will. But
if their failings are creative, you can do two things: learn why they failed and
maybe discover something completely unintended, barely imaginable, and uniquely
profitable. You need to implement a process that allows for each of these to
happen quickly. Once something sticks, you can develop goals for it and ship it
over to the metrics guys to improve. These tasks usually take longer.
Besides creating a culture of allowing failures, you should
build an environment of affiliate support. This means that your different
business units are staking groups in other departments. This generates holistic
viewpoints, collaboration, and a more rapid expansion of ideas – even ones that
didn’t quite work in a particular situation.