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Working Towards Perfection

Robert Henson
Reading: Working Towards Perfection

As Roy McAvoy (played by Kevin Costner) said in the movie Tin Cup, “Tempo is everything; perfection is unobtainable…” McAvoy was describing a golf swing with these words, and anyone who has played a round, been to a driving range, or even observed the professionals on a televised tournament can attest, the perfect swing is not out there. Yes, there are many swings that are close, but none are perfect and even if you catch lightening in a bottle for one swing you can’t recreate that swing consistently. At least this is my experience. I can’t get that ball to go where I want it to every time. I don’t hit each green. And definitely don’t sink every putt. But enough with golf.

My point for bringing up the golf swing was to point out it’s similarities to an organizational transformation. Whether you are trying to shift to a paperless office, become a more collaborative organization, or transform your organization into an entirely agile enterprise, I can tell you now, the perfect picture state you have in your head about what your organization should look like after this endeavor, is not going to be what your organization looks like. Also, it will probably take longer than you are hoping for.

Perfection is Unobtainable

You are not going to be perfect, no one is. I use the goal of the perfect end-state as a gauge to identify which areas we need to focus our efforts to improve upon in order to move us towards the perfect picture. To act as though we are failing because we are not perfect is not a sustainable solution. Strive for perfection, but know that you are not going to obtain it, and you can rest assured knowing that the drive towards perfection, not being perfect, is what is going to set you apart from your competitors.

Tempo is Everything

I have come to realize that we can only change at a certain pace. I have not been a part of a team that was able to successfully take on everything they needed to change and complete it in a day. I have observed many who have tried but they only ended up making things worse for themselves. Through observation, research and experience I have come to believe that in order to adopt a concept and make it part of your everyday life you will need to go through the 5 levels of adoption: Aware, Learning, Practicing, Proficient and Mastered.

We will walk through these in a different episode, the important thing to remember is that this takes time to work through. There will be times when the organization is going to be stuck in an Aware or Learning stage for longer than you thought it should be. My advice to you, if you are in this situation, is to review all aspects of the environment and controls that you have manipulated to get to this point. Chances are that you have inadvertently introduced multiple concepts that everyone must adopt and each concept requires them to go through the 5 levels. Granted these levels might only take half a day for some concepts, but it might take a week, a month, or longer per level depending on the complexity.

The next time you start a transformation of any magnitude, think of Roy and remember this one last bit.

Patience is Required.

Thanks for reading, I’m off to buy a new set of clubs to try to fix my golf game. Maybe we’ll talk about that conundrum after we review the levels of adoptions.

Next Agile Transformation ... Learning What Doesn't Work Is The Key To Success

Robert is an Enterprise Agile Coach with a majority of his experience in the Insurance and Ad Sales industries.  He is a long time Agile enthusiast with a background in Training, Consulting, Project Management, Product Development, and Process Improvement. Robert has introduced and implemented Scrum and Lean Concepts to numerous teams throughout his career. Over the span of his professional career, he has worked with The Home Depot, Vertafore Inc., and INVISION Inc.

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