Doing something requires … doing something!Posted: December 17, 2003
What a perfect tag line. Fast Company covers Why Can’t We Get Anything Done? Boy have I been living that for a spell. Great observations made like:
Companies often confuse talking with doing. They think that talking about doing something is the same thing as doing it! That planning is the same as doing. That giving presentations is the same as doing. That making reports is the same as doing. Or even that making a decision to do something is the same as doing it. All of those errors occur with alarming regularity in companies today.
… the one thing that business schools don’t do is train students to do anything. Ask yourself this question: Would you undergo heart surgery if the surgeon had been trained in the same way that business-school students are trained? Imagine that the surgeon had sat around in medical school discussing heart-surgery cases, watching heart-surgery videos, and listening to great heart surgeons talk about what they did — and now you’re lying on the operating table, that surgeon’s first real patient. Would you actually let that surgeon cut you open? I don’t think so!
Companies have managed to convince themselves that, since what gets measured is what gets done, the more they measure, the more stuff will get done. Last summer, I met a woman who works for a large oil company, and she told me that the company has 105 measures for which she is responsible. So I asked her, “How many of those 105 measures do you pay attention to?” Her answer? “None.” Because in the end, she’s measuring so many things that she doesn’t pay attention to any of them — 105 equals zero.
I’ve worked for both startups and larger companies. The one clear difference I now see is that there’s no where to hide in a company of 50 people. Either you’re doing or you’re no one. Bigger companies it seems much easier to hide out somewhere and just chill. As long as you got your Eddie Haskel charm ready to fire (“Why that’s a fine suite you’re wearing today Mr. Cleaver”), you really don’t need to do much. Then when those folks get into management positions, you have paralysis.
Unfortunately, the article didn’t offer any good insights on how to how to avoid these pitfalls. Guess you need to “just do it.”