Sometimes You Are Wrong

When I was younger my dad had 2 rules for life around our house: Rule 1 – Dad was never wrong. Rule 2 –Whenever dad was wrong, see Rule 1. This worked pretty well until I became a teenager, and like all teenagers I knew better….usually…I thought.


In business however, unlike my formative years, no one gets to be right all the time. We all work hard to make sure we are right as often as possible. It is the way you matriculate upward in management. Being right more often than not is a hallmark of the successful manager. There are times when despite your best efforts, you are not right. What you do now will tell many people a lot about your character as a leader.


If you are wrong, accept that things did not go as you had planned. It happens. Don’t equivocate – “We were 75% correct”. Don’t try and spin doctor the results – “We met our commitments, but didn’t reach the objectives…” Learn from it.


Identify what did go right,and also identify what did not. Specifically identify what needs to be done in the future to assure that when the same or similar issues arise in the future,the outcome will be different. The idea is to focus on the future and not waste cycles trying to explain, or bury the past. What is learned and assimilated into the business and how it is prepared to move forward is far more important than the protection of your ego over some perceived “failing”.


If at some point it turns out that you are wrong, despite however unlikely an occurrence this is believed to be, identify the issue, get it right and move on. In both the short and long term it will be better for you and the business for you to be the leader that corrected the issue and moved forward, and not the manager who tried to recast the past.


My dad still likes to remind me about Rule 1 though.

Beware of the Tiger….Team

There are many corporate animals in the organization, but one that has the potential to do so much good, also has the capability to cause significant harm. That corporate “animal” is the Tiger Team. Tiger Teams normally evolve from some sort of issue that has lingered unresolved for a significant amount of time. When senior most management’s frustration with the current problem owners group’s inability to drive a resolution boils over, they will create the Tiger Team. This is when scarce resources will be thrown at the problem.


Every manager has a reasonable idea of who their best performers, problem solvers and go-to for solution people are. These are also usually some of their busiest people. When a problem reaches a certain age, or criticality, it is usually these people who are called on. They become members of the Tiger team, and begin work on the solution.


In many instances this will be the end. The team will form, the team will work, and the team will solve the problem and move on. Case closed.


However in some instances Tiger Team members can be drawn from one group to help solve the problems of a second group, and placed under the temporary management of someone from a third group. There are now at least three members of management (and possibly more) that feel they have at least some claim to that resources time and the prioritization of their work.


Unless reporting lines are very clearly drawn, and work is very clearly prioritized, some of the most highly regarded resources in the organization have now been put in a very difficult situation. How are they supposed to arbitrate between the demands of so many different members of senior management? If they were working close to or at capacity before, which work will be delayed based on the additional duties required by the Tiger Team? If left on their own to decide, whatever direction they choose will leave at least one and possibly more managers unhappy because their work requirements were not met.


The key elements of a successful Tiger Team are the understanding by all members of the entire organization what the work priorities, and the leadership priorities of the Tiger Team are with respect to the entire organization. If the work of the Tiger Team takes temporary precedence, then the leadership of the Tiger Time also needs to take temporary management precedence. This is sometimes a tricky situation when the resources in one group must be provided to help solve the issues of another group, and their current accompanying work deliverables must be temporarily de-prioritized.


Without the clear establishment of responsibilities and priorities, a Tiger Team has the potential to turn into an exercise in trying to herd cats, with about as much opportunity for success.