False Promise

Beware the road not taken.

The other day I was driving home and tempted to take a short cut. I bundle my errands (eight on this day between the office and home) so I don't run around burning fossil fuel needlessly and frustrate myself in the process.

Like any large city mine deals with traffic in a number of ways but you know, rush hour is just rush hour. And a short cut looked tempting with all those errands.

But it was a false promise.

I mean, I'm from here, and I know that that tempting shortcut dumps you off into a warren of narrow one-way streets all taking me away from the part of town I needed to go to. I had to stay on the main road and do it right.

What a metaphor.

In business and organizational life there are lots of tempting shortcuts.

People may tell you you don't need a solid education, the right background or a good understanding of your discipline. That you don't need to know the fundamentals of your craft or, that you can figure those things out on the fly. As you go.

Bullshit.

Work today is based on collaboration and choice as partners and vendors exercise more and more control over not only how they spend their time but who they spend it with. Project teams form organically as issues are attacked and then shift shape to reconstitute in a different form to tackle tomorrow's problems.

Mobile isn't just a technology platform, its a way of doing business.

Who wants to work with someone who doesn't know the foundation stuff. Whose idea of leadership is based on bravado and self-promotion?

Who will you gravitate to as work groups shift? Who do you want to draft for your teams, projects and tasks? Those who ran from one “latest thing” to the next, never interanalizing anything thus seldom adding value, or those peers who avoided the shortcuts doing the hard work to master their craft.

In days gone by command and control structures enabled the people who took shortcuts to hide. They could blame unseen “organization politics” for not letting them get down to things and contribute. The shortcut takers perfected the art of victimhood while absolving themselves of responsibility. For 40 years.

But those days are gone. The new order is there is no order. There is opporunity and there are resources and when these come together as people add value, contribute and then move on to seek new challenges its a beautiful minimalist ballet.

One in which we see the value of those who took the main road with all its starts and stops and detours and thus learned their craft. Learned the business. Learned how to be a teammate.

Think twice before you take that shortcut. If you want to be a valuable collaborator you're going to have to add value. And there are no shortcuts to mastering your discipline for that.

 

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