Tom Peters (our keynote speaker at the 2011 PPM Summit) wrote a testimonial about Stephen Covey for the Washington Post yesterday (http://wapo.st/MuOysy). For those of you who follow Tom Peters, it was classic Peters and was quite heartfelt, in my opinion. Never having been a Covey acolyte, my reaction was at first just the common one of “oh my good I’m getting old”. People who have populated the landscape in the world I have grown up in and lived in are passing away. None of this is of particular note in and of itself – what is significant and highly disturbing are the comments down below Peters’ column. Nasty, petty and narrow minded. Nasty and petty is just bad human nature but the narrow mindedness is scary. Peters is of an age with Covey. They are both contemporaries and peers. No matter what any of us thought of Covey or think of Peters the article was an insight into their “world”.
I’ve recently been thinking about what is coming next in this unfolding saga of the new normal. In many ways this small blip on the radar of life (the article above) is a challenging proposition. Why does it matter if Peters is ego centric? Anyone who is over the age of 25 who hasn’t figured out that ego centricity comes with the territory for many thought leaders is simply missing a core insight about human nature. And if they are missing that – what else are they missing?
Add this to a call I had the other day where a client had built a mental wall around what they thought they were responsible for and what the “business” was responsible for and you have some possible indications of a disturbing trend. I’m not saying this is new. I’m just kicking the tires on the possibility that mental models are becoming more rigid in the new normal. I hope not. Now, more than ever, we need collaborative and innovative thinking. And that thinking starts by creating room for all sorts of human flaws.
I can go down the list of projects and programs I’ve run and time after time, it has been the fact that I am willing to accept people others class as difficult and ego centric as valued team members that has gotten us to a successful conclusion. Some of them have been so difficult I’ve had to find an office on another floor or in another building to preserve team harmony but in every case these same people pulled the rabbit out of their hats when we needed it the most.
In the new normal, as I see it, just following the rules won’t help your business. Checking the boxes off on a requirements document won’t produce good and valuable software. We need to do less to create and create more value and sometimes the only ones who can really see the end state are the ones whose ego is strong enough to think outside of the box.
Bottom Line– I’ll take an ego centric, bad tempered, brilliant human being who cares passionately about creating something of value on my team any day to a nice person who will do what they are asked to do, when they are asked to do it.