Leading Blog






11.14.07

Optimizing Luck

In a world of rapidly changing conditions, luck often seems to be the determining factor in the success of the best organizations. According to authors Thomas Meylan and Terry Teays, luck is something that can be optimized and built into your culture.
Their book, Optimizing Luck is a business profile of the highly successful, 18-plus year long International Ultraviolet Explorer astronomical project they were involved in for NASA.

While the chapter on leadership could have benefited from some more rigorous thought, they do outline six behaviors and procedures you can implement to amplify your natural abilities to succeed in any environment.

First, and most importantly, they stress the importance of hiring the right people. Look for people with sufficient skills and experience to do the job, aptitudes that will contribute positively to the organization and people with a passion for the kind of work you are hiring them for. (Seek staff reaction to the new person.) “If you don’t have the time to work through a hiring process that gets you the right people, how are you possibly going to have time to deal with all the misfits you end up with?”

Secondly, multiply your strengths through the power of delegation – or just let people do their job. If you have hired the right people with the right skill set, then you should be able to trust them to accomplish the task. “Without trust, delegation doesn’t happen. What you get instead is the making of assignments that you either micromanage or snatch back to do yourself.”

Third, become adaptable through the “master process of continuous habit management.” This consists of being alert to changes, continuously trying new things until you get the results you want, converting successful behaviors into personal habits and organizational procedures, and discarding obsolete habits when you realize it’s time to create new ones.

Optimizing Luck
Fourth, know how to operate in a lean environment before it is forced upon you. “If you have hired self-renewing employees, and you have given them the opportunity and resources to learn new skills, then they are well prepared to adapt to changes in your enterprise’s needs….Don’t think in terms of malnourished drudges. Think of slender gymnasts, flexible and agile and capable of an entire repertoire of tricks.”

Fifth, promote prompt and accessible communication to all who need it. Knowledge is the raw material you use to drive a business, it must reach everyone, whether it is good or bad news. “Without good communication habits, your organization may be too slow to take advantage of a surprise opportunity and end up not getting there first.”

Finally, build a system for recognizing and rewarding people that perform beyond their job description. “Your method of rewarding employees should encourage the behavior you want your employees to show.”

The key passage is this:
Differences in levels of success often come down to differences in personal habits. People employ decades-old systems of habits to get through the day. However, most people put no special thought into developing these systems. They pick up a few tricks from mom and dad and a few teachers and a lot from their peers, while growing up and going through school. And that’s where their habit-developing effort stops.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:10 AM
| Comments (0) | Books , Management



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