Hope and Heroes
In our world of individualism, spawning new generations of influencers, and immortalized company founders, it would seem heroes can make a difference. With a single post an Influencer can generate millions. A hero founder can raise billions. Without a second thought Steve Jobs name will ring out as a prime example of how impactful a hero can be. He saved Apple!
Take a moment however to consider Apple's performance since 2011, as Apple closes in on a decade without Jobs. His legacy might be his vision, but the hockey stick stock price from 2011 to 2021 could tell the story of how effective an organizational-centric approach can make an even bigger impact.
At the very least, heroes may limit scalability. How many heroes could one company possibly retain? At the very worst, heroes may be a risk to company survival. With reliance on heroes coming through when it matters most, there may be a tendency to marginalize planning, procedural development, and organizational standards. Have you ever heard a Systems Admin/Engineer say that it would take them longer to write something up, than just do the work? It may be true, but how repeatable is that approach? Does it provide a predictable outcome? How do you rationalize improvements and innovations without an established procedure? What if something goes wrong, how do you perform effective root cause analysis?
Knowledge is power in knowledge-based work efforts, so the more individual-centric a company is, the more reliant they become on heroes. This is not to say that roles should not have expected levels of advanced knowledge and expertise. Nor is a call to have every activity choreographed. This is merely a call to recognize that organizations need to develop methodologies and standards to ensure repeatable, predictable outcomes as part of a practice in Continuous Evolution. Taking such a path may provide you with a hockey stick growth chart too.
I hope this helps.
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