I was exchanging email with a friend recently and I’ve always been very impressed with his organization. They have just very consistently put out the same messaging and are really successful from the products its developing, services it provides, all the way through talking to the people that received those services. I was asking him about what they do internally to support all that and his response kind of surprised me because of how much consistency there is. He said that one of the big things that they do is ensure that people have ownership of things. Whether it is a line of code, a territory that they manage, or some portion of the organization, they explicitly define what they are responsible for. They give you real ownership of it and responsibility for the good and the bad.
He also mentioned a phrase that I thought was really interesting and I’ve co-opted it a little bit for myself and our organization. He said that their CBO has this phrase that he uses all the time and its EA3. It stands for Engage, Adapt, Adapt, Adapt and I love that. I think it applies to just about everything we do. I think that one of the things that kills a lot of efforts is this huge prelude to engagement. Whether we do so much thinking and so much planning that when we get into the actual work and we have to adapt to a change, we’re not ready for it or we’ve already spent so many resources that we’re not able to support that adaptation, something like that spells the end for an effort. So this idea that you engage first and fast so you can get out there and fail quickly or fail, adapt, change, fail, adapt, change, as many times as it takes to be successful is a powerful one. It really resonates with me because I feel like so often some of the best work that we’ve done has been where we’ve jumped right in and started rowing and done course corrections along the way to ensure that we get to where we want to end up. By jumping right into the work you give yourself the time to take chances, make mistakes, and adapt until you find the right and best approach. So I don’t want to do too deep of a dive into what is essentially a sort of high level slogan but at least for me it really resonated and really seemed like the right approach to a lot of things. So I’m curious what other people think of that idea and I look forward to hearing your feedback.