“If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error.”
John Kenneth Galbraith
“It only takes a tweak to make the whole world new.”
This post is kind of a bookend to something I wrote a long time ago about spectacular errors and how I tend to like the business people who had the kahones to make them … I call it “spectacular error type behavior” <and I also included my thoughts on the joy & gnashing of teeth in managing them>.
This is more about business organizational decision making than it is about individuals making a decision.
Suffice it to say that typically one thing threads its way through every successful business organization, okay, 2 things:
risk or change <and errors>
Yikes. Immortality is defined by a combination of consistency and change <note: I do not mean consistent change>? Immortality is achieved through mastering two parallel paths? Yikes. How does that happen <and can a business really do both well>?
First. No business solely dedicated to consistency will ever go down in history immortality hall of fame.
Second. The only businesses solely dedicated to spectacular change or risk who will enter the history immortality hall of fame are the ones who flamed out with a spectacular error <they will be in the “oh, what they could have been” wing>.
Third. In this hypothetical business hall of fame of mine … the only businesses the Hall of Fame will be those who were spectacular in consistency and made some spectacular errors <and successes>.
I could write an entire article about how to manage a business by encouraging isolated moments of ‘spectacular error like behavior’ within isolated areas while the rest of the organization is focused on consistent behavior and output … and how you shift it around to energize progress
Regardless. Yes. A business can both be spectacularly consistent and make spectacular change <thru selective errors & successes>.
Spectacular errors do not have to be spectacularly big events or decisions. Sometimes a tweak can make a whole world new: sometimes good and sometimes bad.
Well. That was a little unnerving to write. So this means I need to pay attention to the little things as well as the big things?
I don’t say this to suggest someone should be fearful of making even small tweaks or changes. I actually say this to suggest we should make more tweaks and make more changes in general and just be more aware of the potential effect from seemingly small tweaks.
Look. We are always taught to ‘think big.” Do “big things.” But … uh oh … “big mistakes” looms as impending doom should you make a ‘big wrong decision.’ Therefore maybe our decision defense mechanism kicks in and we rationalize ‘tweaks’ as minor and not earth shattering nor capable of spectacular error.
It is a bad mistake to think that way.
<note: very very very bad>
Big, medium or small decisions & actions are actually more often about risk and return.
Or maybe … little risk big penalty versus big risk little penalty assessment.
I sometimes believe we focus on ‘big’ so much that we ignore the ‘tweaks.’ My counter to ‘big idea’ or ‘think big’ is I like to remind everyone that it is Chaos Theory that suggests the movement of butterfly wings can create a typhoon half a world away.
Tweaks, little or miniature, either can lead to a spectacular error or spectacular success <that is really my point>.
But. Spectacular errors can only happen if you take spectacular chances <tweak or big>.
Let me be clear.
I am not fond of irresponsible risk taking and decision-making, but I am fond of doing ‘the right thing’ even when it may appear to be going against the flow of the spineless ‘consistency is the only thing that matters’ business people.
Sometimes that means a spectacular success, sometimes a spectacular error. But always something spectacular.
What I do know is what more could you want to say about your life but that you have done something spectacular?
Even the consistency gwonks dream about it <even if they never open their mouths to utter the words>. Uhm. Here is the tricky part about immortality in business.
Sometimes immortality is attained within that tipping moment within the moment, that sometimes split second, and what you do <or don’t do>.
Unfortunately … this is a business truth whether you are discussing something ‘big’ or just a ‘tweak.’
“Every great mistake has a halfway moment, a split second when it can be recalled and perhaps remedied.”
Pearl S. Buck
So. I am not suggesting we all run around seeking immortality and purposefully running around seeking to make spectacular errors <businesses or individuals>. But I imagine all of us in business take a moment on occasion and do a little business directed soul-searching as you look in the mirror and say, ‘are you pleased with what you see?’
If the answer is not an unequivocal yes than, inevitably, you start thinking about possible changes that you have to make.
Immortality, as an individual, is not about fate or society or the leadership within the business you work … you have to constantly hold yourself accountable.
Immortality, as a business, is not about fate or society or the “good to great” book you have on your desk … you have to constantly hold yourself accountable.
It is up to you to decide to tweak or ‘big’ or accept the burden that comes along with spectacular errors. I could suggest that this mindset is driven by a desire to be in the business immortality hall of fame <and it could be true>, but instead I will simply suggest that most business people like to think they can think great business thoughts. And most businesses like to think they can change the world <in some form or fashion>.
“Nurture your mind with great thoughts.”
All business people should think this … at least on occasion.
It is healthy.
All businesses should think about this … at least on occasion.
It is healthy.
And when they do they need to realize business immortality can be attained in a variety of ways – not just with something big. Spectacular, errors and successes, can occur thru big, medium and tweak size actions.
In my mind more businesses should think about this. I worry that the fear of immortality thru some spectacular error skews businesses to focus solely on consistency and delivering good, or great, shit every day. That is not necessarily bad but it it also insures no chance of the spectacular … and hence … any immortality.
Immortality can occur in a variety of ways.
But. To enter into the business immortality hall of fame you have to embrace consistency and change <risk>.
Maybe, just maybe, that is where spectacular resides – within that thought and within that space in between. All I do know is that spectacular occurs when both are embraced and they complement each other.