Don’t give in to apparent failure in the middleSocial Sciences
“My favorite maxim in management, if not life, is: ‘Everything can look like a failure in the middle.’ Predictable problems arise in the middle of every attempt to do something new... Stop a project because of these problems, and, by definition, that project will be a failure. Persist and... a chance for success remains.”
Rosabeth Moss Kanter: On the Frontiers of Management
At Values Coach, we’ve worked with organizations that have achieved amazing results; the CEO of one of our client hospitals wrote that after participating in our Values Collaborative he “got a whole new team and didn’t have to change any of the people.” We’ve had reports of substantial enhancements in employee engagement, customer and patient satisfaction, and productivity. On the other hand, we’ve also worked with organizations participating in some the very same programs where one year later it was as if nothing had happened. It was just one more “program of the month.”
In the quote above, Harvard Professor Kanter has precisely nailed the difference between the two: where we have seen the greatest success has been where the leaders have insisted upon participation, persisted in the face of inevitable criticism and cynicism, and resisted every call to quit. The more committed the leadership team, the greater the result; the less committed the leadership team, the less the result.
Predictable problems arise, she says. You might not know the specifics but you know that you will have problems. Money troubles, troubled relationships, career derailments, health problems. These things, sooner or later, happen to us all. But if you persevere, you just might pull it off.
As the ancient poem Beowulf says, fate often saves a doomed warrior when his courage endures.
Anything can look like a failure in the middle but it only becomes a failure when you quit