Your project went off the rails, and your boss – who doesn’t care about the complexities of the project and only wants to not be embarrassed in front of her boss – is chewing your butt because it looks like lousy planning and execution. She wants to see the detailed project plan in two days. You know the team had a detailed project plan but it fell apart two weeks after the start. [Read more…] about Balancing Planning and Execution
“I’m constantly thinking, ‘How can I destroy this?’ when I’m planning a mission.” — from an interview with a retired Army Ranger.
Try this “Special Forces” alternative to conventional risk analysis. Look at your business model, internal organization design, and processes from the point of view of a lethal attacker who wants to destroy, disrupt, and paralyze your operation.
- What are the obvious weak points for entry?
- Where are your security controls predictable and easy to guess?
- Where are the points-of-failure in your supply chains? Where do you have vulnerabilities with partners and suppliers?
- What communication channels (internal, you to suppliers, customers to you) could be disrupted and cause a business loss?
- If a confusing situation arose, will your employees know how to handle the uncertainty?
- Where is your process execution inconsistent, or overly dependent on a single person?
- Where do you have time sensitivities, such that delays will create a business loss?
- What if someone else captures your operational tempo?
- Who could be bribed or intimidated? How would you know?
Andy Groves, former Intel CEO, famously said, “Only the paranoid survive.” Amazon sets up their best people in teams to create functionality and services better than Amazon’s current offerings. It’s better to disrupt yourself.
Step back from your day-to-day insider perspective. View everything in your organization with an eye toward disruption. Your competition is already doing this.
I have an acquaintance who says that NICE stands for:
You would correctly surmise he’s not the cheeriest person in the world, nor does he believe in the essential goodness of mankind.
The strict definition of the English word Nice is “pleasant; agreeable; satisfactory” with a secondary definition of “fine; subtle.” I live in Iowa where we talk about “midwest nice” as part of our culture. We wave to other drivers on the farm roads even when we don’t know them! Mothers coach their children to be polite and nice to others, which is a good thing.
Check out the surprising etymology of the word “nice”:
Leaders should be pleasant and engaging (and firm and decisive) rather than nescius. Ignorance should never be the source of “nice.” Nescius serves neither you or others, and certainly not your organization.
Finally, far too many people underestimate the cunning and wile that can lie underneath the surface of “nice.” Be wary of presumptions that nice goes deep. Study and weigh actions more than words.
Many people have observed that nice people don’t “get ahead” in organizations. There may be some Machiavellian truth in that. The people who get ahead are seen as effective. Leaders must work for effectiveness first, and certainly nescius has no place in effectiveness.
Be nice out of courtesy and knowledge and experience. Be nice because it promotes healthy relationships. Be nice but not at the expense of the truth.