Growing up, one of my chores was to mow the yard. In the summer, our yard would break out in a sea of yellow dandelions. You can make dandelions disappear by simply mowing the yard, but within a few days – the yellow sea of flowers reappears. Just like some of your company's most stubborn issues.
One night this holiday season, my wife and I were wrapping gifts for our family. When a large pile of brightly colored packages sat beside each of us, we stood back to admire our handiwork. Kate’s packages were beautiful – crisply wrapped, carefully secured with beautiful ribbons that matched the wrapping paper, each package festooned with tidy little bows. My packages were technically covered (mostly) with wrapping paper and tape. But they didn’t really look…finished.
Have you ever picked apples at an apple orchard? Trees burgeoning with plump, perfectly shaped apples, ripe for the picking. Growing up in California, we had such a prolific tree in the backyard of our house. During August and early September, Mom would send me out to pick the apples and gather up the strays lying on the ground. I’d haul them into the house with a bushel basket and Mom would turn most of them into applesauce. The very best specimens were sliced up, covered with dough and baked into Mom’s excellent apple pie.
Most of the apples, hanging enticingly from the branches, looked perfect. Or at least until you grabbed one and studied it more carefully. You know, one side of the apple looked great, but when you turned it over you’d find a wormhole or a deep bruise. Damaged goods.
But how many times have you taken a bite before performing your due diligence—checking it out from every angle?
When we begin implementing EOS with a company, we always ask the leaders to commit fully to the journey ahead – the journey to become their very best as a leadership team. One of the specific things that requires is to take responsibility for everything that you and your fellow leaders have created in your organization. Like a lot of things in EOS, that sounds easy – but it’s hard and very rare.
What we’re talking about is avoiding the blame game, which is so common in lean, fast-moving organizations. Most readers of this blog know the feeling well – you’re sailing along, growing and prospering, and then all of a sudden you hit the ceiling. You’re stuck or derailed by a major problem, or by hundreds of little ones. It’s frustrating and scary – and when you’re frustrated and scared your emotions can get the better of you.