Wednesday, June 13, 2012


In my experience, the most successful organizations are those that are humble.  Successful organizations are smart enough to know what they don't know and are also humble enough to consider that others may know better than they do.

I can think of two recent examples of this:

1) I was recently on an email thread where some individuals from the federal government were discussing the capabilities of the federal government analytically.  After much chest beating and boastfulness, someone wondered aloud if the private sector may also have some interesting and unique capabilities analytically.  I've worked in both the federal sector and the private sector, and that statement may very well take the prize for the understatement of the year award.  If I were still in the federal sector, I would assume that others were better analytically until I found out otherwise, and moreover, I would try to learn from them.  The attitude in the government appears to be the opposite, and in my experience, is unjustified.  It's a shame really.

2) I recently witnessed a vendor pitch gone horribly wrong.  Although the vendor was explicitly told several times what the customer was looking for, the vendor chose to decide for itself what it wanted to sell the customer.  The result was downright embarrassing and painful to watch.  A catastrophic miscalculation?  Sure.  But a little humility and willingness to actually listen to the customer could have gone a long way towards avoiding what turned out to be a dead end and waste of everyone's time.

A little humility can go a long way.

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