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OMG, I’ve Made A Mistake!

How frequently do you fear hearing that same phrase, despite your best efforts to go about your job without making any mistakes? For some reason, mistakes seem like a four letter word in some companies. Management thinks that the assumptions they’ve made hold water. But what if the assumptions they have made are wrong? You could be holding a leaky bucket and nobody has bothered to wonder if you’re going down a faulty (and wet) path.

DSI Tries Something Different… and Wrong

This weekend, I read a book called Decisive. It told an interesting story about Decision Strategies International, a strategy firm in Conshohocken, PA and London, UK. The firm decided to plan and execute a mistake and see where they landed. What if the assumptions they made to date were wrong? To simplify things, their CEO Paul Schoemaker, took the brunt. If it didn’t pay off, it was his responsibility.

DSI selected the top 10 items on their list of practices that they shied away from doing, key questions that most organizations wouldn’t dare investigate. From there, they whittled it down to the top three that would pay off big if these presumptions were wrong. There top picks included:

  1. Don’t hire MBAs without experience.
  2. The President of the firm doesn’t have to be a senior billing consultant.
  3. Ignore request for proposals, or RFPs. Clients who use RFPs either look on price or have already selected the firm they want.

The team selected option 3 and decided to answer the first RFP that came through the door. Imagine their surprise when it culminated a contract that, all told, got them $1 million.

Do Policies Reflect Gossip, Politics, or Evidence?

Now, it is unlikely that you will uncover $1 million by looking for mistakes. But this unveiled a major point that had been wrong. DSI now bases business on evidence, not gossip and politics.

It’s like when we were small and had to learn everything one step at a time. We humans all learn to crawl, walk, and run… but it comes on failure, after failure, to success. Some things, like burning yourself on the stove stick because it hurts. You try it once and learn that you won’t try that again! But running around and learning play ball… that ignited something magical. Where did we lose that spark and creativity to try something new?

Industries will grow or fail based on the decisions we make in the next several years. Are you brave enough to base your decisions on analysis or are you willing to trust blind faith, gossip, politics and practices already in place to see you through? If you are like me, you’re going to trust your gut and learn that mistake proofing doesn’t exist.

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