So Who Did You Pick..

Holding the "unknown" in both hands...

As it was just yesterday we were waxing about business holding in their hands a choice of either (relative) assured success or that of the unknown for the achievement of a necessary goal (task).  As why not take the known value, in fact game theory says you should too!  As let’s analogize for a moment to say you’re the manager of a project and you have a choice of two people where the first has successfully achieved the required “goal” while the other has not.  So who did you pick and why?  Now before we go there, I’m sure there are those who are saying “if you don’t give a novice a chance, how are they to learn“? The answer for this can be found in the “journey” rather than the goal as to steal from the aviation industry, this is why we have copilots.  If this one is too lofty (pun intended), then there is education as proper “education” contains in it simulations as you don’t want a “would be” doctor practicing on you before they spend some quality time working on a corpse do you?

The other argument one typically hears is “without chance, how do we improve“? This one is a two parter in the first being as in the prior example, innovation is part of the journey so improvements are built upon “known” sub tasks which brings me to the crux of this query.  As here the “questioner” has to understand the challenge provided as the story problem says this is a task not a “problem” as it’s been solved before.  Therefore we have access to the resources which solved it in the past, so why reinvent the wheel?

This is the thing, we used the race to the moon yesterday to explain the value of the journey over the goal, we can also reuse the same example to say that when Kennedy put the challenge to the American people he held the same choice in each hand of the unknown.  In cases such as these, it truly is one of the roll of the dice and the goal does truly become the “sum” of the pieces found in the journey. So harking back to our moon example, in 1969 after Neil Armstrong returned safely to earth, then president Johnson was in a different place then his predecessor, as with the goal in the “past” he now held a known in this hand, so why would he throw a decade of work away?

Here success can be analogized as in the building of a human pyramid, where we require a wide range of success at the base as these don’t require a lot of balance as their job is stamina as they will carry the load for what is to come, so do you really want to introduce “risk” here when there is a “known” answer?  As the next layer, no longer being earthbound will require their brethren for continued success because if you were the person at the top of the heap would you want the people under you, spending their energy, time and money reinventing the known rather than tackling the unknown…

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About Joseph Campbell

As a strong believer in the fact that "people work for people", it has been a life driver to better to understand the complexities of the various aspects which drive efficiency within this axiom, especially the concepts of leadership. Supporting this, I have been fortunate enough to having experienced this as leader on a global basis over the last decade and half. During this time it has been clear there are three core drivers being Life, Leadership and Economics.
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