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Be Honest #1: I was wrong

Deirdre Wilson – Thursday, November 12, 2015   


I was wrong in a big way this week. And I am glad that I found out. We had a huge week with lots of deadlines and staff away on annual leave. Our biggest risk during weeks like these is the temptation to take shortcuts in order to meet tight deadlines. But, there is a difference between shortcuts and doing something a better way. One of our values is Be Honest - so I am 'fessing up to making the wrong call this week because I learnt from it.  

In order to meet tight deadlines without sacrificing quality and accuracy, I become the consistency police. I insist that anything that needs to be added to an existing job is done exactly the same way as the original part to make sure that all parts work together. I can't watch television during these weeks because all of the continuity errors drive me up the wall!

But what if the original part of the job has been done in an inefficient and out dated way? I am always happy to hear that there is a better way to do something but not always when deadlines are tight. I was wrong again.

This week, we had a letterhead to make. it was an existing design and we were given the existing artwork. All the client needed was a word file. So far, so good. Then they needed further variations for different addresses. So simple. Such a small job. Wrong again in a day of complete wrongness. One staff member made the first word file and then went on annual leave. Someone else had to make the next variations. But they had a better way of doing it. Their way was more efficient and easier but they didn't want to tell me because I was stomping around being the consistency police.

Fortunately I found out, but only after the job had been finished. I found out because after the day of wrongness, I asked this staff member why they were disengaged and fortunately they told me. My fault, I made it impossible for a quiet staff member to tell me that the process I had been protecting was outdated and not smart.

I had gold at my fingertips and all I could see was looming deadlines. I have now encouraged that staff member to stand in front of me, tell me to shut up and listen whenever they need to get through to me. I do hope it happens, because whilst I will try to ask more questions when we are under the pump, it will be very helpful to be talked off the ledge and told that I am wrong.

At the end of the day, there is nothing wrong with being wrong, so long as it is not a persistent state of being. It's uncomfortable being told that you are wrong - I don't like it much - but I would rather hear it than persist with doing things a dumb way or losing good staff through them being prevented from contributing. And we are all grown ups, its not our first rodeo, so we can sort it out!

At Hothouse Design we love a good book. Here is an excellent example of the power of habits and their ability to transform. Use our link to Amazon and the affiliate fees will go to charity:

Turn the ship around: David Marquet imagines a work place where everyone engages and contributes their full intellectual capacity, a place where people are healthier and happier because they have more control over their work-a place where everyone is a leader.

Further Reading

Feedback, be it from staff...or anybody, is a good thing. 
 What to do with feedback

This post is by Deirdre Wilson, Director of Hothouse Design – Australia's most sensible information design company.
Deirdre applies her background in industrial design and design management to the complex and wondrous projects undertaken by Hothouse Design.

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