Have you ever heard of the saying, “All projects can be successful, if only they didn’t have people in them!” Yup, there you go, that’s the silver bullet (well, not really.We still need the people but we need people who can be humble). More specifically, I believe that the base secret to success is found in the profound mystery of being humble as a person. Let me explain.
I’m sure if you live in Australia, you would have heard of the issues the Australian Census had when rolling out the online solution for the survey. What many of you might not know is the fact that days after the crash, some Queensland University of Technology students replicated the solution and stressed tested their own solution four times more than the real site. They did this in 54 hours and at the cost of $500 not $9.6million. Why have I used this example? I’m sure you have been part of initiatives, programs, strategies and projects that were started or run by people who think they know better. Heck, in fact I’m sure you, like I, have thought, “I’ve got this. I know what I’m doing. I’ve been doing this for years!” Or tell yourself, like I have, “This other guy told me this is good, I like him, he’s a good mate, I’ll endorse it because I trust him. After all, he made me feel really important!”
You don’t have to look too far away from the media to see the outcomes and conversations that were had after the site crash to work out that humility was hugely lacking in the handling of the situation. In fact, for most projects and initiatives I’ve ever been in, I know that the biggest root reason for issues, misunderstandings, fall outs, failure and blow ups is often pride or ego related in some shape or form.
What I’m saying is simply this. The workplace, (or even the world), would be a better place if we check self-centeredness, pride and ego at the door before we enter the office. How do you know that you or someone you work with is tainted by a lack of humility? Here are 10 signs.
- You are stubborn to multiple signals of an alternative way to do things.
- You don’t seek opinions of others, let alone and listen to them or adopt them.
- You sit on alternative ideas to your own until something blows up.
- You play the political game.
- You’ve never openly admitted you are wrong and given an apology.
- You don’t lead by doing, you lead by ordering and delegating. It’s your way or the highway.
- You are not genuine. You tell someone something and tell something else behind their backs.
- You stick your head in the sand when there’s an issue you don’t understand and don’t want to ask others for help.
- You cover up the truth or “spin it positively” when things are not going well.
- People around you don’t know you deeper than where your office desk is. You are never warm enough to get to know better.
Do an experiment at your workplace, just observe how much of this behaviour that demonstrates lack of humility happens at the micro level each day. Pride and ego or the simple lack of humility cannot be fixed by better methods or more audits and gateways. They can’t be fixed by getting a new technology. They can’t even be fixed by using better consultants than the ones you currently have. It’s a human condition that can only be fixed by starting with yourself.
I hope this helps in your journey towards creating a more genuine work culture. Something that is key to business transformation. True business transformation has no room for politics, pride and ego. It’s just too expensive a price to pay in this current age!
About the Author
Head of Market Development, Procensol Australia
As Procensol Australia’s Head of Market Development, Mervin brings more than a decade of experience in strategic thinking, software, systems and process-centric design for business transformation to the operations of the organisation. Originally from Singapore and now based in Brisbane Australia, Mervin has held positions ranging from strategic BPM consulting, channel management, CIO, CTO to vendor management. He leads Procensol Australia’s market strategy, working with clients and partners to guide their Intelligent Automation, innovation and digital transformation investments.
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