The Shots That You Dont Take Will Never Hit
Coffee: Better tools for error correction should raise, not lower, IT quality expectations.My April 28th letter made reference to a fascinating study of network reliability, specifically the trade-off between tolerance of accidents and resistance to deliberate attacks. The referenced PDF file, for no known reason, became corrupted at just about the time that the letter went out: Im pleased to report that the administrator of the site replied immediately when I finally took the time to report the problem, and that the link now appears to be working correctly. It seems to me that this illustrates a key advantage of ubiquitously connected IT, compared with the more isolated networks of about 10 years ago. We can do more things at lower initial cost because the follow-up cost of refining them is so much less than it used to be. We can actually afford, in many more ways, to adopt the mantra of "Ready, Fire, Aim" that Tom Peters and Bob Waterman coined in their 1982 book, "In Search of Excellence." Its vital to realize that Peters and Waterman never intended this expression to be an excuse for poor quality or a cynical description of customer abuse. On the contrary, they intended to raise expectations for rapid resolution of problems and for short-cycle improvement of products and services. Peters has quoted Ross Perot as describing the advantages of quickly correcting errors and neutralizing threats, saying, "At EDS, when you see a snake you kill it. At General Motors, when you see a snake, first you seek out the best consultants on snakes. Then you appoint a committee on snakes. And then you study snakes for a year or two." Killing snakes, not breeding bugs, is the goal.
Id be the first to point out that Peters often makes money by arguing both sides: After selling 6 million copies of "In Search of Excellence," he discovered five years later that only 14 of that books 43 exemplary companies were still looking good. He promptly began a new book, "Thriving on Chaos," with the statement that "There are no excellent companies." Oh. When Peters talks about the process of "conjectures and refutations," we have to realize that sometimes hes refuting himself--and we need to have the courage to do the same, candidly if perhaps not joyfully, as we learn.