I regularly read Thomas Friedman’s insightful and interesting NYT Column and have read many of his wonderful books. Reading his material has generated many posts, including Mimic Mother Nature to Create a New Political Party, New Responsibilities are Opportunities, and many others. In his column he often promotes the work of Dov Siedman and his book, “How: Why HOW You Do Anything Means Everything”. This recommendation inspired me to read his book. I was not disappointed. Gandhi’s quote captures the book:
To believe in something and not live it is dishonest. – Gandhi
The book was fascinating. Most importantly, from my perspective, he talked about optimizing the process, or finding a better HOW. From a new perspective, he explained Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s point that to get a better outcome, we must continually improve the process – the HOW! Throughout the book he emphasizes, if you take care of the HOW, the WHAT takes care of itself, which to me is a rewording of Deming’s proclamation to continually improve the process so the product will take care of itself.
To make his point, he explains how we must build a culture to be the engine that leads to value based outcomes. Examples of cultures are markets and he made a valuable analogy about Free Markets to traffic. He made this comparison by explaining that traffic flows best and fastest when it is predictable. Traffic lights and rules such as lanes, warning signs and speed limits make traffic flow predictable. This of course also includes how neighborhoods function, such that cars, pedestrians and bikers can all make steady progress because conditions are predictable. If instead they made traffic a free for all with no regulations, not only would it be dangerous and difficult, traffic would move and function poorly. When a traffic light is out, things are uncertain and unpredictable. This condition slows and often stops forward progress. When things are unpredictable, this makes people risk averse meaning they could choose not to drive or if they do drive, progress is slow. Doing anything is a risk, if people are risk averse, things stop happening. The comparison to markets is that if people in business see an unpredictable market and they cannot reliably know if they can be successful, they may choose to do other things. In other words, a rules free market would create a culture that would likely stagnate or at least greatly diminish the market and economy. For me this was a very powerful lesson.
He continually emphasizes making decisions on values to enable self-governance. He demonstrates that when people enlist in values that promote the common good, rules, policies and procedures are not as needed. He also shows that because it is impossible to make rules or procedures for everything possible, following shared values allows people and organizations to quickly and effectively adapt and make good decisions in new situations. The book reviews the HOW Leadership Framework and provides a fresh clarifying direction for people to use.
He points out the sometimes elusive nature of goals by sharing what Henry Sidgwick showed in the Paradox of Hedonism. The paradox Sidgwick explained was that if you pursue happiness directly, it eludes you. In a like manner, Seidman seems to suggest that if you pursue success directly, it will elude you. To emphasize that better results are the by-product of better HOW’s, he explains:
…You can’t do self-improvement, but if in every email, conversation, meeting, and task you are thinking like a leader, you will improve.You can’t to tolerance, but if in every interaction you strive to fill the spaces between you and others with trust, you will get tolerance, and a whole lot more. You can’t do excellence or winning but if you believe in a set of core values and you pursue the expression of those values in everything you do, you all deliver more excellence to others…
So what does he suggest we do, he suggests we pursue significance to achieve success as a by-product of our how. If we pursue significant, value based HOW’s, success will take care of itself!
For me, from my bias perspective, this book was a detailed explanation of HOW to Practice Paneugenesis. In other words it was HOW you can continually improve your processes so you are able to generate comprehensive improvements by creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits. I strongly endorse this Seidman’s book, “How: Why HOW You Do Anything Means Everything”.
This post was written to help you know HOW to make it a Great Week for everyone and everything!
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