Friday, February 12, 2010

A Million Steps in the Right Direction

This afternoon I was thinking about all of the progress we have made at Bostech since I rejoined as CEO last July. I then quickly shifted to thinking about all of the opportunities and challenges that we face moving forward to realize our full potential. I believe the key to building high performance companies is to make progress every day - realize that it will take A MILLION STEPS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION to achieve your goal. There is no silver bullet strategy for building a high performance business. All too often, I see entrepreneurs who are constantly leaping from one silver bullet idea to the next. I think this approach is incredibly unproductive and ultimately creates a hollow, unstable organization. It creates a culture where everyone is detached from reality and where morale bottoms out each and every time the silver bullet of that week or month fails to hit the target.

Admiral James Stockdale was the master of this approach. The strongest evidence of this can be found in the reason he provides for surviving years in isolation as a POW in Vietnam. Here is what he said:

"I never lost faith in the end of the story, I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade."[4]

When Collins asked who didn't make it out, Stockdale replied:

"Oh, that’s easy, the optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, 'We're going to be out by Christmas.' And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they'd say, 'We're going to be out by Easter.' And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart."

Stockdale then added:

"This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

1 comment:

Brian Deyo said...

Wow. That is a great post. Love the point about optimists from the POW veteran. The case for realism and consistency is a very strong one. Unless the vision is so compelling that it can sustain various different attempts to achieve it, realism in the moment must be shown at times.

Nice post Brad. It was good to see you the other day. Hope all is well