Catching up on slow leadership

It’s been a while since I glanced through the posts on Slow Leadership.  Lots of good stuff, but three particularly caught my eye:

Occam’s razor which basically amounts to the proposition that explanations shouldn’t be more complicated than they need to be – is applied to management by targets:

Demming’s basic message was that quality is a management responsibility, and poor quality is almost always the result of imposing systems and objectives which thwart people’s desire to do high quality work. He also said the role of management was to drive out fear, something best done by eliminating quotas, numerical goals, and merit ratings. A good part of the overwork and pressure that infects business today comes from people either collecting data to satisfy the organizational mania for measurement, or facing objectives that have been produced by the statistically illiterate.

You Can’t Be Innovative and Risk-averse Too – which argues that innovation intrinsically entails risk, based on a report of a survey which, surprise, surprise, found that “having a culture that does not foster risk taking was the biggest impediment to innovation”.  Building on that, Slow Leadership argues that

Many organizations get risk completely wrong, because they focus entirely on the risk of being wrong. What about the risk of being right – maybe even more right than you ever dreamed? It’s the continual focus on the downside of risk that leads executives to institute whole books of rules to limit their exposure to it, and to punish those who take risks and get them wrong. But much – maybe most – of success in the real world has to do with chance, not design. That’s how evolution works, for example. It puts out changes into the world and sees what happens. What works, survives.

The suggested solution – or part of it – comes in the form of six rules of innovation, culminating in the exhortation, “A failed idea is far better than no idea at all. Remember that.”

The stories we tell ourselves – which argues that our grasp of our own past and present is pretty shaky, and that our grasp of the past, present and intentions of others is shakier still.  We understand the world through a set of stories which we tell others – and tell ourselves.  And in a tradition which no doubt goes back to the very first telling of how big the fish was that got away, we embellish and adapt stories in the telling.

People constantly tell one another stories, at a bar, in the office, at home around the dining table. Marketers tell stories about products. Newscasters add human interest stories to enhance dull, factual news. Hollywood and television entertainment are nothing but stories. Of course, we tell ourselves stories too – about what things mean, what other people must be thinking, about why we did, or said, things that worked out or failed us. Memory isn’t a filing cabinet of facts. It’s a library of stories we’ve told ourselves about the way life was and the part we played in it.

Our heads are full of creative fiction, loosely based on real events.

The power of story comes up in other contexts.  I was going to add a sentence here about one of them, but following a couple of links to pin down something I half remembered suggests that stories and knowledge management deserve a post in their own right – to follow soon.