“The goal, then, is to uncouple fear and failure – to create an environment in which making mistakes doesn’t strike terror into your employees’ hearts.” Ed Catmull
Organizations that value growth and success encourage their employees to innovate, try new things and stretch the boundaries of the business. These organizations embrace failure because they realize without failure an organization cannot grow and reach new levels of success. They also know that if an organization is not growing then it is stagnating . . . and stagnating businesses fail.
My son and a few of his friends started a landscape and lawn care company this summer. They built a website, flyers, posters and brochures. They knocked on doors, distributed flyers and sold their services to as many people as they could. Once they landed enough customers, they went and rented an aerator and power rake and worked their tails off. At the end of the first day they had lost $15! Talk about a disappointing failure!
“If we sense that our structures are rigid, inflexible, or bureaucratic, we must bust them open – without destroying ourselves in the process.” – Ed Catmull
To be successful in today’s highly competitive marketplace, your business must be flexible, innovative and customer friendly. Businesses that are inflexible and difficult to do business with are destined to fail.
Quite a few years ago, I was called by a client and asked to take over an engineering project that they had awarded to one of our competitors. This competitor was not meeting the requirements of the contract and not delivering on schedule or on budget. Once I got involved with the project and did some investigating, I discovered the biggest reason for their failure was they were stuck using their rigid project execution processes that added cost and complexity without returning any value. This competitor was stuck in their rigid, inflexible and bureaucratic structure and could not find a way to break out of it even though they were self-destructing!
“As leaders, we should think of ourselves as teachers and try to create companies in which teaching is seen as a valued way to contribute to the success of the whole.” Ed Catmull
Here is the secret: Real leaders are teachers! If you are not teaching your staff, you are missing a huge leadership opportunity and limiting the overall potential for your business.
I started doing noon hour training sessions in the mid-90’s. I think the first few sessions I did were on goal setting (based on Les Hewitt’s The Power of Focus) and they were pretty rough (a special shout out to all those who attended and never walked out!) However, the more sessions I ran, the better I got. I then encouraged others to do the same thing and we ended up with all kinds of employee led training sessions.
Most of our businesses are run by systems that we have put into place to ensure consistent delivery of products and services. Sometimes these systems are automated and sometimes the systems are manual. However, in every case, these systems are set up, maintained and operated by our people. So, our businesses are run by systems but our people run the systems.
A few years ago I was attending a monthly meeting of The Executive Committee in Calgary and we were discussing some typical business issues that members of the group were facing. We were extremely focused on fixing the business system side of things and one of the group made this statement and it struck everyone as profound.
“our businesses are run by systems but our people run the systems“