Size doesn’t matter
Statistically speaking, you’ll not always be right.
The amount of money involved in the decision has absolutely no mathematical bearing of the probability of you being correct.
Yet, it will have a direct and absolute correlation with your ability to accept your mistake.
And that, in three sentences we unveil perhaps the greatest folly of business and in turn, HR.
I’ve observed this over the years that I’ve been in corporate life, the larger the stakes, the lower the propensity to accept the reality of failure.
Like a punch drunk gambler at the casino table of life we pour good money after bad to assuage the egos of those that set us upon this path.
I wrote last year about the changes in technology that allow us to approach investment discussions in a different way. Since then I’ve seen a number of conversations with the likes of Undercurrent and Josh Bersin about the need to approach business cases like a start-up.
Low barriers to entry. Short cycles. Fast failure.
Yet the argument, whilst unassailable in its logic, still falls on deaf ears. Because of the simple fact that corporate life is predominantly male.
And men value size, not satisfaction.
Where are the bragging rights in showing off a small, low-cost, pilot project, when we can talk about multi million pound investments with gargantuan Powerpoint presentations that suggest the future value of something but with no empirical evidence, whatsoever, to support.
It isn’t the efficiency of your car, it’s the size of the engine. It isn’t the quality of the meal, but the price of the bill.
In business, we still determine value and importance by volume. We pride ourselves on the investment more readily than the return.
Until we can change our perspective of success from that of the old corporate norms, until we can challenge the way in which we judge efficacy and performance within our (predominantly traditional) businesses, we will not be able to face up to the new economic realities and we will show ourselves as wanting, as vulnerable to the faster more agile, less egotistical organisations entering in to our markets.
We need to redefine success criteria within our businesses in order to survive. But that starts with redefining the value that we put on our own corporate careers.
Let’s build a legacy that ensures future recognition, rather than build a monument to ourselves.