Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Speech I’m Delivering Tomorrow

Do Something

Monday, May 04, 2009

7:40 PM

Thomas Edison tried and failed to create a lightbulb some 10,000 times before he got it right. Do you know what he said about that failure? He said, "I didn't fail, I simply found 10,000 ways that don't work." And it's a good thing he kept trying or else you would all be having a much harder time reading at night.

Mr. Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters and guests…

He kept trying. Because he kept trying, he kept learning. And eventually, he got it right. Imagine if he was working for some Company XYZ today. And time after time he kept coming back saying that the way he just tried didn't work. How long would have taken before his boss completely scrapped that project if not just flat out fired poor Tom?

There are 2 main factors at work here. One, you have to DO Something. At some point you have to take all of the meetings, and all the research, and all the different decisions that have been made and actually try some stuff and see what happens.

I'm not saying you have to go run out and try stuff without thinking. There's definitely a place for planning and strategizing. But you can only research and plan for so long. Eventually you have to just try something and see what happens.

Enlightened trial-and-error outperforms the planning of flawless intellects. The faster you try and fail the faster you learn. The bigger you try and fail the bigger your learning.

At my company right now we're working on completely moving a bunch of our applications from one development platform to another. A daunting task, to say the least. Fortunately, there are several tools on the market that can help us with this migration task. We have one guy who's been running lead on looking into these different tools. The other day, he sent out his recommendation on which tool we should use. Now, there's another guy in our group is fairly familiar with some of the different companies and their tools and he was wondering what led to this decision. So, he decided to ask. That's when I over heard this comment; "Have you actually tried any of these tools out yet?" Each and everyone of them offers a free trial. But a decision was being made on research and speculation. At some point you have to TRY something.

Everyone always wonders about decisions. Did we make the right one? Could we have made better one if we had more information?

A decision doesn't change anything until you implement it!!!!!

Doing= Making Mistakes = Learning.

That leads us to the second factor in our equation. Are you allowed to learn? Are you allowed to screw-up?

Everyone talks about wanting to have a learning organization. But no one wants anyone to actually learn anything. Because that means you have to tolerate failures and inefficiencies.

Organizations focus on accountability. They want to know who does what and if something doesn't work who's at fault.

American Airlines has a system of accountability right down to the individual. If a plane is late they want to know whose fault it was. So, what do AA Employees do? They look at who they can blame. This is the same cover-your-ass culture that exists in far too many organizations.

Southwest Airlines, by contrast, doesn't worry about blame, they worry about getting the plane in the air and making sure it doesn't happen next time.

Southwest's strategic plan: It's called doing things.

Doing= Making Mistakes = Learning.

Steve Mariucci, former NFL head coach said he doesn't wear a watch because he always knows it's now. And now is when you should do it.

Richard Marcinko, the Rogue Warrior, founder of the US's first counter-terrorism unit, SEAL Team 6, sums it up nicely, "Don't be afraid to make mistakes, the path to glory is littered with [screw]-ups." You can't screw up if you don't DO something. Think about that! Go talk about that. I've got stuff to do.

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