No one who has ever worked, studied or done anything for longer than 5 minutes can claim to have never failed. We all fail, and that’s OK. We just need to make sure we do two things; 1) fail fast and, possibly, fail cheap and 2) learn from it. In my decade of personal and professional growth, I have certainly failed various times. Here’s a few of my takeaways.
- Mechanisms vs Best Intentions. Efforts without mechanisms are just best intentions. Without mechanisms to audit and inspect processes, mistakes will propagate and inputs will not be maximized. Results will be mediocre, at best. That’s what happened to me various times in my career. For example, I once launched a suite of metrics for my business partners to monitor their transportation spend. However, I didn’t think my job would entail monitoring usage of my products. I didn’t think my job would entail setting guidelines. I didn’t think my job would require babysitting. What a bit mistake. Establishing mechanisms and processes isn’t the same babysitting or micro-managing. Having frameworks and playbooks helps transform inputs (my metrics and my stakeholders’ decision making) in outputs (lower transportation costs), consistently.
- Short-term vs Long-term thinking. Amazon is big on doc-writing. PowerPoint presentations are just not a thing. Delivering a document for leadership review often requires weeks of work, with several peer reviews, fine-tuning sessions and narrative adjustments. And too often, Amazonians see the delivery of a document as the ultimate success of a project. Too often we lose momentum after the doc read, and too often we believe we have arrived if Directors and VPs rubber-stamp our 6-pager. To me, that is short-term thinking (working towards the delivery of a document) and too often it goes to the detriment of long-term thinking (working towards the success of the business case presented in the document).