I recently wrote about the television show House and how the arc of the show is a great metaphor for what it takes to grow. Last night, I was watching an episode, and one of his apprentices froze because they were afraid that making a mistake could worsen the patient’s condition, and possibly even kill him.
House moved forward with the treatment, which turned out to provide the insights he needed to solve the mystery. A dialogue went on between House and the apprentice. The essence of the conversation was that the apprentice asked House, “How can you keep doing what you do when you know you could be wrong – and being wrong could kill the patient.”
House responded: “Being wrong could kill the patient, being afraid to be wrong will kill the patient.”
Wow! I thought. That nails business on its head, in any market – but especially in bad markets. Today, I see executive after executive frozen, fearful that they could make a mistake that could kill their business. The fear is well founded. Business is always risky, and it’s especially risky today. Questions like, “will customers buy this,” “can we deliver on the promise,” “how will we sell this,” and “can we make the changes internally to make this happen,” are all reasonable and appropriate questions. Failing to have the answer, however, is no reason to slow down the implementation. These are all questions that need to be answered, as you are changing – not before.
Pick a course of action, get to work – and then make the quick adjustments you need to make, communicate clearly and execute. Today, making a mistake could hurt your business, and the fear of making a mistake will kill it.