This book can be purchased at: http://ijgbooks.com/weeding.html
I’m going to wind things up on wankers today with a look at the final chapter: “Right but not successful”
I’ve skipped a few chapters to get here so consider them homework.
This chapter is about how the squeaky wheel does not always get the grease. Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the door.
Over the course of my career I have accepted challenges that others have passed over as impossible. This probably goes all the way back to my first post secondary experience in college where a professor told me that I should drop out because I didn’t have what it takes to become an engineer.
I have seen that professor since and we have laughed about how I proved him wrong. I didn’t just prove him wrong though, I graduated with mostly A’s and went on to do a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. I tend to excel when challenged and the more impossible the task, the more I want to prove it can be done. Note that I didn’t say “prove others wrong.”
Ibrahim points out that “being right is not necessarily being successful” and I understand that. In organizations where R&D has stated that a task is impossible, only to have someone like me prove it is not, doesn’t always work out in my favor. Something called dissonance theory, compels humans to want to justify life events with respect to their own understanding of what life should be. If you or I create a discontinuity by proving someone wrong, they immediately try to justify their original statement in order to bring their world back into alignment.
I will talk more on this when I review the book “Mistakes were made but not by me.”
It is safe to say that being right or proving the impossible, possible, will not necessarily make you successful. As others adjust their reasoning, you will get caught in the crossfire. One of the most common ways to prove that their original statement was correct, is to point out that you did not actually accomplish your task. They could point to the quality of your work, or create new requirements to justify their position.
Ibrahim goes on to talk about his personal beliefs and how he has problems sleeping if he allows them to be compromised. I am definitely in that boat. General Choi drafted the tenants of Tae Kwon Do to remind students of his goals in creating the sport. It turns out that I agree with those goals and they sum up a lot of what I am about. I know that I have BLOGGED about them before, but here they are again, “Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self control and indomitable spirit.” We also say that we will be a champions for freedom and Justice.
Being a champion for freedom and justice is what compels me to stand up for what is right, even if it means personal sacrifice. I hear you saying, “But what is right? is your perception always right?”
There is no possible way for me to know the answer to that question, but I do know that I am not always right. I constantly review my position and try to look at things from as many angles as possible. I have gotten things wrong and I am man enough to seek out those involved and apologize. There have even been times when I apologized only to find out later, that I was right all along. We can’t say that life isn’t interesting.
I leave you with Ibrahim’s final words of advice from page 121:
“So if you cannot sleep at night because you believe your leadership team is clueless, take action, and yes, leaving is an option. Otherwise you’re a wanker.
Similarly if you see something you care for floundering, either try to change it, or leave, or else you’re a wanker.”
I want to take a moment to point out that as we get older the option to “vote with our feet”, becomes a much riskier proposition. I had heard over the years that it is hard to get a job once you are over 50 and I can say that this year has proven that it is hard but not impossible. So be cautious, don’t become a wanker, but don’t jump over board without a life preserver.
I want to take a moment to thank Ibrahim for putting pen to paper, or spending some time typing, and I want to thank my brother for giving me a copy of the book. The book opened my eyes with respect to how things happen and are justified in the ranks of senior management and I think I am wiser as a result.
An interesting companion to Ibrahim’s book is “100 days” by James Bagnell. It looks at Nortel from a different angle and tends to discount some of the things that Ibrahim has pointed to as possible reasons for the companies failures.