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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Don't Waste Your Sophistication

What is it that you truly understand? What core decisions about your business or your life have you made? Can you describe to an outsider what your business or department is all about (and I hope you are happy with that)?

I ask these questions because if you have clear answers to these questions, then the rest of your decisions should be much simpler. Note: I'm not saying without pain, but simpler.

The British have a saying that goes something like, 'he was too smart by half'. Its what I'm getting at.

For many of us, we've made decisions, we've learned great lessons; the rest is persistance and perseverance. Those are the traits that make all the difference once the direction is set.

And sophistication? That ability to see the nuance and understand the implication and develop the complexity? Its great to use a mentor/coach or your own experience to work through the thought, plan or idea. But once it's been done, get on with it. Execute and learn.

I can remember a proposal I worked on for a Big 4 consulting group. We started with a core team and put the proposal together. Then the 'powers that be' brought in more experts to review and contribute . . .they did this over and over again for a two week period. Over that period we changed/evolved the proposal 3 times a day. By the end of the process, we had over 30 different versions (I remember putting in my hours for those two weeks: 205 hours.) At the end of the iteration hell, on my own, I looked at the versions from the beginning to the end and you know what? I suspect you guessed it.

The last version was uncannily similar to the very first version. And you could track the evolution from human to simian to ape to simian and back to human. Scary.

So the arithmetic here comes down to this: use your sophistication to set your direction and then move as aggressively as you can. Don't suffer sophisticates or doubters lightly. And learn as you go. You'll run rings around the competition and your team will have a lot of fun.

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