Being Good Means Looking Bad

I’ve been coaching project managers in a large development program to start making visible any impediments they’re going to throw in each other’s way. They game we play for is everyone to see potential impediments ahead of time, and clear them before the become real impediments.

This is counter-intuitive behavior for managers in many large organizations, because they want to make their teams look like they are doing good work, and doing everything that was asked of them.

When you’re doing work in a large program, or any large system, what’s good for your team might not be good for other teams. To improve the system, teams need to acknowledge how things flow between them, and remove impediments to the flow. Not fully sharing your difficulties can cause them to multiply.

Being good at the game of improvement requires willingness to allow yourself, the team, and the system to look bad.

Look bad, practice an improvement, measure the impact, and start looking bad again. That’s the core of the journey to becoming good at making anything.

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