This past week, Guy Kawasaki posted a blog entry titled "Why Smart People do Dumb Things" where he proceeds to enumerate a number of reasons extracted from the homonymous book by Dr. Mortimer Feinberg and John J. Tarrant. Among them he lists hubris, arrogance, narcissism, unconscious need to fail.
There is a big difference between knowing what we should do and actually doing it. The knowledge piece seems quite sexy; being interested, learning something new, coming up with that cool idea. The doing part sounds comparatively like routine work, no matter how easy this work may be to do or how obvious that it should be done.
I have found that the space between my knowing I need to do something and me actually doing it is at times quite messy, especially during first implementations. The idea was great, the planning was exhilarating, and now it is time to plunge in. Call it uncertainty, this is the moment when things have not taken shape but in my mind and in the minds of my team. What risks are we willing to take? Do we see the potential poor outcome as a path to learning? What level of forgiveness is embedded in the project?
Interestingly enough, I do not view any continous implementation as routine work. The outcome of a smooth customer service transaction for example may be a satisfied customer; the actions and conversations that need to occur to get there may be quite different each single time. The variables are the customer, the service agent and the circumstance(s) that brought them together, for starters. This experience also involves listening actively, wholeheartedly, almost to a point of forgetting for a moment what we know to be true (of our products/services standards, etc.) to be in the conversation with the other party.
So approaching the inquiry with a mind open to thinking we do not know, may actually serve us well in learning how to implement what we do know for the benefit of our customer, whoever that may be.