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Friday, June 18, 2010

Shoot for a Star Even if You Miss

Courage and boldness, two attributes of a successful systems engineer and leader that make a difference between opportunity seizure and status quo. It is not always easy to make decisions that result in a big change, or address a big gap. Sometimes these decisions are needed. I am a big advocate of evolutionary development, meaning changes that occur in phases and evolve over time. However the decision to initiate that change and stay in the game until the end needs to be done with a sense of urgency. So lets look at an example to clarify the point.

You are a community leader and you notice that the rate of growth of your community membership exceeds your forecasted studies, and people will not be able to park their cars soon on property. The decision to expand the current parking space versus acquisition of a new satellite office for future growth is a major decision, and is not easy, but it needs to be made quickly. The solution implementation itself (parking or site acquisition) itself should be evolutionary.

So what does this have to do with courage and shooting for the moon? Well, a conservative systems engineer will propose a solution which entails the least risk. In the case above that might be to expand the parking area at a conservative rate each 5 years. A bold systems engineer might propose an immediate expansion, with a partnership with the church next door, and the charter for expanding the community center horizontally in another locality with the vision of spreading throughout the State within 5 years. That is a very different vision, one that requires commitment, radical change, motivation, dedication and courage.

Courageous leaders shoot for a shining star, and if they fail they know that their chance of landing on the moon - which is still an achievement - is high. They are willing to take the risk, to plan effectively, have a backup plan and will not settle for less than the moon.

Do you know have a vision of your star and do you know where is your moon?

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