STRESS, Pain, ECSTASY

Good Morning Innovation Leaders, Yesterday I experienced the STRESS, Pain and ECSTASY of being a Project Leader.  Recall, the project I'm leading is to find a 10X more effective way to teach.   The focus is on Innovation Engineering - but the application is much broader than that.

STRESS was yesterday morning and early afternoon.  The plans were to go live with the new system in the late afternoon at the University of Maine.  As the morning went on it was clear we weren't ready.  The computer systems, teaching systems were just not right.  Five times I almost cancelled the test.  Fortunately Angela - my co-teacher was unfazed - she said "no problem it will all be fine."    I was stressed for all the reasons -- didn't want to fail -- if we took just a little more time - blah, blah, blah.

PAIN was 4:00 yesterday afternoon when all of my fears were found to be true.  What was planned just didn't work.  It was embarrassing, annoying and painful.   Theories we had based the program on were found to be wrong, "wisdom" found to be foolish.

Fortunately - I had a dream team - Angela and James helped with teaching - Scott and his team of Ranch magicians instantly problem solved problem after problem after problem.  

ECSTASY was around 5:00 or so as the learning from this Fail FAST Fail CHEAP experiment revealed itself.  The students - who knew the system was experimental - found work arounds - suggested ideas and became a part of the process.  A raw energy and excitement was ignited.   After the class ended at 5:30 - a group of us went for dinner at Pats Pizza.  We laughed at the day. But it was also clear that we were onto something really, really big.  As we toasted the day it was clear that we are onto something truly revolutionary.  James and I debated how long do you think it will be before all universities teach this way -- ok maybe a bit premature - however based on what I saw today - not unrealistic.   And yes I was the butt of jokes for my "Stress, Pain and Ecstasy."

WHAT DID I LEARN: Looking back it's clear that not even 9 months of planning could have given me the learning I received as project leader in just 90 minutes yesterday afternoon.  I also learned that it's easier to "preach" then it is to "do."   And even I - who have lived this approach for 30+ years - feel the same stress and pain that you do. AND - as CEO of my organization I need to STAY CLOSE TO THE WORK.  I need to feel the STRESS my people feel.  I need to live the PAIN of failure.

Now I recognize that publishing this will result in lots of jokes and abuse.  I'm ok with that - I deserve it.  And to paraphrase Dr. Deming "Any boss not willing to admit they failed is not worth working for."

So what are you waiting for?

Read the blog before this and LET'S GET STARTED!

Doug

p.s. Think of me today at 9:30, 2:00 and 3:30 as we do three more experiments.  I can't wait!!!!