Monday, June 1, 2009

Inspirational Greece

The reason I found myself in Greece the other week was to give a presentation to the Greek Association of CEOs on "Why Good Leaders Make Bad Decisions". Of course everyone makes what they think are good decisions at the time, some of which turn out to be bad! Things change, and sometimes what was right on Monday is wrong by Thursday afternoon. Nobody said it was going to be easy!

We all make mistakes. I have always told the people I work with to pursue failure. Not to make mistakes on purpose, but when they do make them, to use it as a piece of extreme learning. There is no better way to judge a company than by its ability to fail fast, learn fast, fix fast. John Chambers over at Cisco has said "without exception, all my biggest mistakes occurred because I moved too slowly".

In some cultures and environments (possibly every government department on earth) this can be hard to apply, but I can tell you that fail, learn, fix is one of the great liberators of innovation. I come from a young country that is not overwhelmed by its history like Greece and changing on a dime is part of the business culture.

But times are tough, even in countries where there is a natural inclination to look at the world as it used to be. It is vital that business practice doesn’t sit in the past. This is not to decry history. I am a strong believer in the past informing the present to shape the future, but we live and work in the here and now.

I told the Greek CEOs that the big idea they needed to take from their history is the inspirational spirit that made Greece the center of the world and makes them a Lovemark. The Greeks who achieved that goal all those centuries ago did it the same way Greek people can change their world today. Fail fast, learn fast, fix fast.