Big Hairy Audacious Goals

A awesome note to start the day & week from Measure What Matters:

“If companies “don’t continue to innovate, they’re going to die—and I didn’t say iterate, I said innovate.” Conservative goal setting stymies innovation. And innovation is like oxygen: You cannot win without it.”

Conservative goals vs Big Hairy Audacious Goals.
Iterate vs Innovate.

And a hat tip & best wishes to a mate – Narasimha / DNP / Nampy – of mine starting his own gig. Reach out to him, if you or your team believe a coach can help.


Some fun visuals of awesome people going after audacious feats can only help:

Beware Reasonableness


Here is a customer experience story for you. Today, I had given my car for servicing at my regular service station. As usual, there was a delay when I went to pick it up at the scheduled time. The car was still being washed. Post the wait & settling the bill, I finally got the car. I was keen to get home & avoid the evening traffic snarls. To my surprise though, I saw that the car was still dirty at many places.

On further inspection, I discovered it had not been washed at all. Not only was I charged for it, but I was also made to wait long for the wash. Obviously, I was furious and frustrated. I made a complaint to the managers. And I was on my way out after agreeing for a wash the next time there.

That’s it? Nothing more? Why didn’t I make a bigger issue of it? Why settle so quickly?

Beware the soul sucking force of reasonableness.
– Chip & Dan Heath

Inspite of the service station being clearly at fault, the reason I did not make a mountain of the issue was probably what had happened at the service station earlier in the day. Several acts that defied business reasonableness.

  • Early in the morning when I was dropping the car off, I had met the service manager. He wished me as soon as he saw me & ensured someone was attending to me at the earliest.
  • During both my visits on this occasion, I was offered drinking water (such a relief in Indian summers) & hot beverages.
  • Even more important, the person serving the water & beverages was genuinely smiling at customers. He seemed keen to serve & not just going through the motions.
  • And there was more than one person smiling at visiting customers, trying to make them feel comfortable & ensuring they were attended to quickly.
  • Even when the issue was discovered, there was no attempt to avoid the issue or blaming on lame excuses. All three levels of managers (service advisor, service team manager & the service station in-charge) –  acknowledged the issue, took responsibility for the same and apologised.

Decisions to the do the above acts could’ve all faced the challenge of corporate reasonableness. It is reasonable to save money by not giving free packaged water or beverages? Smiling, making customer feel comfortable & well attended to – this is a car service station, not a hotel for god’s sake!

The reasonableness defying acts were them building up their equity by take the initiative to give, give & give (the job jab jab in Gary Vaynerchuck’s terms). They cashed in their equity (the right hook) when they asked me to excuse them for their obvious mistake.

Criticism In Corporate Culture

Today, I came across two seperate reputed opinions about corporate culture. Unfortunately, both are negative.

The first one from a Bridgewater Associates (considered the most successful hedge fund in the world) manager:

In general hierarchical structures, you don’t tell people what you actually think.

You’re always managing other people’s perceptions of you and what they think of you, and trying to butter people up above, trying to make sure they don’t think anything is going wrong, that you have all the answers.

Radical transparency is designed to solve for a deadly sin of work life: office politics. In too many places, what happens in the meeting doesn’t matter nearly as much as secret alliances and conversations after the meeting.

And the second one (paraphrased) from Malcom Gladwell:

When I think back about my time in a large organization, the thing that was most frustrating to me was the extent to which people over time in organizations, put the needs & desires of the people on the inside ahead of the needs & desires of the people they are serving.

Sometimes people get so immersed in their envronment, that the people you are supposed to be serving sort of falls away. And you just think about what would make your life better.

One way to avoid this is to keep reminding yourself & the people around you the point of your organization & who you are serving.


Incidentally, both of these were heard in the TED original podcast WorkLife with Adam Grant. The episode How to Love Criticism delves into how Ray Dalio addresses these in Bridgewater Associates with a corporate culture based on radical transparency & constantly getting better (kaizen).

Philosophy Behind A Great Work Place


Reading an article about Google’s people practices yesterday, I was amazed by the amount of analytical vigor that goes into it’s people decisions. Impressive as it might be, the decision making process did sound cold. Colder yet when you read about SAS & their philosophy of managing people.

Mark Crowley lists the four unique leadership values that have helped SAS deliver amazing results consistently over a long time. 37 consecutive years of increased earnings. You can’t argue if they have withstood the test of time. 

  • Value People Above All Else
  • To Give Is To Get: pamper your employees, so that they will treat your business & your customers in the same way; “people want a life with money, not money without a life.”
  • Trust Above All Things: trust is demonstrated via open communication, respect from fellow employees, transparency into career-paths, and being treated as a human being; manager’s primary responsibility is to ensure the success of others.
  • Ensure Employees Understand The Significance Of Their Work: help your employees find fulfillment & meaning from their work.

There are few people, let alone the hardened souls of the stock analyst kinds, who believe in such warm & fuzzy good guy values. And this is precisely what makes such successes even more precious.

Good Guys Do Win.