It seems as if Big Data is all the rage these days. From being find parking spaces in crowded cities to completely taking the fun out of sports, the use of data is everywhere. Recently I came across a very significant piece of data that is represented by the number 12,345.
12,345. Just on appearance it seems to be an interesting figure. Similar to a straight in poker or any number that makes you wonder the odds of such a number forming, 12,345 is very significant.
Why? Because 12,345 is the exact number of regular season shots that Michael Jordan missed in his career. In fact, he missed more shots than he made. Let's think about this for a minute. Arguably the greatest basketball player ever missed more shots than he made. He didn't just miss a few, he missed thousands.
He once stated that, "I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Yes, Michael Jordan worked and practiced tirelessly. Yes, he did possess physical skills and abilities that enabled him to run and jump higher than others. But maybe the biggest thing he possessed was the ability to look the fear of failure in the eye and stare it down. As a freshman in college he hit the game winning shot of the 1982 NCAA basketball tournament when he was only 19 years old. Insert your own millennial or 'kids today' example here.
Are your employees asking for the ball in crunch time or passing it to someone else? While there may be value in both, if you want a truly innovative culture everyone has to feel like he or she can take that shot - without fear. Fear of 'what were you thinking?' Fear of 'that was stupid' Fear of all of the nonsense that has people backing away from even the slightest risks and, most of all, taking the big shot.
Can you have a truly innovative culture without taking risks? I think MJ would say no.
A typo – in a resume, a document, an email – is often seen as a signal of a world ending collapse that indicates impending doom and destruction for the person responsible for such a horrendous mistake. “How dare you write a 200 page document and misspell one word!” People collapse in the street, pounding their fists as they cry out, “why, why?” The reaction to a typo conjures up images of royalty turning their noses with such contempt and disgust. “Away with you! We have no time for your ineptness.” It is amazing how righteous we become when we find a mistake. In fact, I have seen and heard some of the most outrageous stories when it comes to typos. My favorite is a senior leader actually stopping a conference call where the topic was a multimillion dollar project because one word was spelled incorrectly. “I am not your proofreader,” he said. “Reschedule when you are actually ready.” Slam. Down with the phone. Meeting over.
The typo represents our obsession with negativity. We could be presented with an outstanding piece of work and, rather than focus on all of the positive aspects of the effort and all of the hard work someone or a team has completed, we instead focus on a tiny, miniscule mistake and shatter the entire project. Yes, if the mistake was indeed huge and led to a medical mistake or a problem with an engineering design that affected people’s lives then the criticism is well warranted. However, most of us on a day to day basis do not deal with life and death situations that result is terrible outcomes if, for example, we type an ‘n’ instead of an ‘m.’
Imagine for a minute that when the United States Constitution was about to be signed someone proofread it and found some typos. “That’s it! Forget the whole thing. Shut the country down and reschedule the Convention until you are ready.” Well, guess what? There are typos in the US Constitution. Yup, it's true. The U.S. Archives writes that “As the members of the Convention prepared to sign the document, Hamilton took up a position beside the last of the four sheets, laid out for signing, and appears to have taken charge of the process as the delegates from each state came forward to sign. In this capacity, he wrote the name of each state at the left of the growing column of signatures. When he came to the largest state delegation, headed by Benjamin Franklin, he wrote "Pensylvania." And thus the parchment reads today.” (source: US Archives)
Since we are discussing important documents and literary works, how about we discuss the Bible for a moment. A version of the Bible printed in 1631 stated that “thou shalt commit adultery.” Imagine going to the library and opening up to that page. A life changer for some I am sure.
So, don't freak out the next time you see a typo. You are actually in good cmpany.
It seems whenever companies or organizations need creative ideas there is a call for brainstorming. People are brought together and then the ground rules are established. No idea is a bad idea. Let people finish their thoughts. No judgement. The list goes on.
Then, an hour later, the session ends and what happens? People go right back to telling people that their ideas are bad, listening goes out the window, and judgement runs rampant.
Maybe it is time to stop scheduling brainstorming and simply embed those ground rules into the culture. Think about it. Brainstorming may help generate ideas but it also does something else more significant - it illustrates just how dysfunctional companies, organizations, and even families might be. It is almost admitting that without the rules during the session there won't be innovative and creative solutions.
End brainstorming and simply have your culture model those 'rules' every minute of every day. You can't schedule innovation.
Ta da! One less meeting on the calendar.