All entries for Sunday 07 December 2008

December 07, 2008

Leadership challenge

Last Friday we had the leadership challenge in the morning. I was very happy the Ally offered herself to lead us, that was a very nice evolution and demonstration of courage.

We did very well ending with a very high punctuation. However a small thing happened, few people noticed but our team noticed, and it was a learning experience.

When there were only1 or 2 minutes left I realised that we had to input our results in the computer. There was another team using the computer so I got quite anxious. Half of our work was finished, we had one route defined but not the other. Ally and Luis were working on it.

With about 30 seconds left I set in the computer and input my numbers. Them Paul said we had only 10 seconds. I shouted to my team and told them to bring whatever they had. Better something them nothing. They brought me their route, but in a paper, not in the template. They gave the numbers, I typd them. I guess that by that time the 10 seconds were gone. I still had to input 2 other information, if they had gone through Kyle and how many points they had. None of those information was clear and I was to make a decision in seconds. I remember perfectly what came to my mind. For the points I know we had at least 500, probably more, but I could not be sure. Since we had 700  in the other route I decided to input 1200 and be honest, no try to put more them I thought we had (even though we probably had more). Second I also decided no tu put the lighthouse, for the same reason. Being honest, if I was not sure, best assume that we did not. Of course being honest was a driver, but there was another driver that was the fact that we could have some trouble if we had any kind of testing, if we had to prove and we could not prove it (and I did not know if we could!). So I take the safe route.

Ally got quite angry with me, because she thought we were trowing points away. I understand her, but reflecting on it, if I had to make the same decision again pressured by time and not having all needed information I`d have done the same. I think I took the right decision given the conditions. My only mistake on that specific situation is that I could have made an exta effort to explain it after. But things soon got clear and this was not needed.

But that`s a good example of how hard it is to make a decision under pressure, no time, not having full information and representing a group. In the specific situation I`m glad I made the right one and I think that what helped me do it was the fact that I have built in me a set of criteria, ready to be used when facing a decision . That`s good, but has got to be treated with care because can also became a barrier to taking different an new decisions.


Good sense, organizations and people

Submitted my CBE PMA. Good feeling, glad I did and glad I worked on it. It is a good feeling to deliver something that took a lot of honest effort.

I few things that came to my mind while working on it.

My father is a very religious person, very catholic. But he has a very nice approach to it, he understands faith is an individual questions and that each on of us must deal with it in a personal way. So we all (me, my 2 brothers and my sister) had the option to go or not this way (and so far, none of us did). But there is something he always says. It does not matter if you follow or not an organised religion as long as you love each other the same way you love yourself. It`s a beautiful thing. But sometimes not so easy to apply. Once I had a doubt about how to apply it on a specific situation, I came to him and discussed the matter. I remember he saying he could not decide for me, he could not say what to do, but that I should not forget the rule of love and I should use common sense when using it.

This common sense thing became part of me. Years later I was in the university learning economy, and after a time I realized that except by the jargons and very specific thing economy, like pretty much any other science, is a matter of common sense. I had the opportunity to teach it and always said that to my students, when in doubt, common sense.

Now, finnaly CBE. When giving a closer look at change management, organisational culture, continuous improvement and above all EFQM we find out it is all above common sense. It`s something special to say that when changing something you should put all the involved people to participate? It`s something new to understand that when going in a specific direction all the processes involved on it should be aligned in that direction? But that`s all in the material we found. Human beings are funny, we know what we should do when we stop and think, we know what is common sense, we know that what is called "common sense" is called that way because lots of people in lots of situations have taken that direction and decision so that it became a COMMON decision and logic, a tested and proved choice. But we still behave wrongly quite frequently and need studies, frameworks, models, theories to do it. Human, very human.

One last think. Common sense is good, but is not all. Sometimes we have to try something different, to break common sense, to go further, to innovate. The problem is knowing when and how. That`s why we have geniuses with major successes, and dumb people with major failures. The difference between brilliantly going beyond common sense and sadly falling by not respecting it, is success.


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