Posts Tagged ‘Turkey’

Resilience Engineering #24: Thanksgiving and Success

by Gary Monti on November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving has provided a great time to inventory what is good about life. For myself, that included looking at things from a business perspective. One of the line items is project success. This may seem a bit funny since resilience engineering is about accidents, failures, damage, etc. The reality, though, is resilience engineering asks the question:

Why does failure occur when people plan to succeed and work to do just that?

Focus on Sustained Success

In line with Thanksgiving and in its simplest form the resilient engineering frame of mind avoids taking success for granted. Stated another way, it is a proactive approach to failure that is done in a unique way and answers the question:

What does it take to establish and maintain continued success?

One of my favorite people, Andy Groves, co-founder of Intel, to this day has a piercing focus regarding this question. He is a professional paranoid regarding success. Does that mean he has a negative attitude? Quite the contrary. He is just aware that while success can be quite powerful it is also paradoxically frail. Forces both within and without the project or organization need to be constantly monitored and managed to keep the project or even the entire organization on a balanced footing.

Part of Thanksgiving is appreciation of a powerful sponsor who avoids reacting to someone yelling, “squirrel!” and, instead, stays close to the project, practices governance, and avoids micromanagement.

This brings us to another line item regarding Thanksgiving, having subject matter expert who take full responsibility for their work. This not only includes doing the work but also addressing the associated quality and risk management PLUS being aware of the ripple effect behaviors have on other parts of the project.

When these things occur we all have something to be thankful for, can genuinely be at peace, and are free of the need for the tryptophan that comes from eating too much turkey.