12 Chapters
Medium 9781626569225

6: People Fear Judgment

Kincaid, Matt; Crandall, Doug Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

How very little can be done under the spirit of fear.

—FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE

COLEMAN COUNTY SITS just under two hundred miles southwest of Dallas in the-middle-of-nowhere, Texas. On a scorching summer day in 1960-something, Jerry Harvey sat on his in-laws’ porch playing dominoes on a folding card table. The temperature peaked at 104 degrees. Only a small fan, periodic wind gusts, and some cold lemonade mitigated the heat. But Jerry was nonetheless enjoying his game of dominoes, occasionally looking down at his feet to see fine grains of dust blowing across the deck and disappearing between the gaps in the floorboards.

Jerry’s father-in-law cut into the peace of the Sunday afternoon by suggesting that the family take a trip to get some dinner in Abilene. “What? Go to Abilene?” Jerry thought to himself. He could hardly tolerate the idea of driving fifty-three miles back and forth in an un-air-conditioned Buick with his wife and in-laws. But before Jerry could grimace and furrow his brow, his wife chimed in: “Sounds like a great idea.”

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Medium 9781626569225

10: Dignify Every Try

Kincaid, Matt; Crandall, Doug Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Great spirits have always experienced violent opposition from mediocre minds.

ALBERT EINSTEIN

BRUCE BROWN, who’s mentioned periodically throughout this book, has a cult following of fifty-year-old men and women who used to be in his PE classes at Hyak Junior High. That loyalty has spawned nearly five hundred thousand Facebook followers.* Bruce shares wisdom on team building, leadership, and shared commitment to core covenants. Retired from teaching and coaching, he now consults for the likes of the Philadelphia Eagles, NCAA champion soft ball and baseball programs, and businesses around the country. Coach Brown teaches, “If a mistake is made with carelessness, then take corrective action. But if someone makes a mistake with full effort and attention, find a way to dignify the mistake. The bigger the mistake, the more important it is to dignify it.”†

During summer 2002, Doug interned for the Seattle Supersonics in the basketball operations office.‡ There were only four or five of them there on a daily basis: the general manager; the head coach; a receptionist; and Doug’s boss, Rich

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8: Assume Positive Intent

Kincaid, Matt; Crandall, Doug Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

If someone doesn’t trust you, it doesn’t matter how well you measure your words, the other person will misinterpret you. If someone trusts you implicitly, it doesn’t matter how poorly you phrase something, the other person will assume you meant well.

BRUCE BROWN, FOUNDER, PROACTIVE COACHING

FORGING A CULTURE OF CANDOR—one where people share their questions and uncertainties, their good and bad ideas, and their feedback and concerns—turns on one thing: positive intent. It is what holds everything else together—the center of gravity. You grant those you lead permission to speak freely under the condition that they say anything and everything for the good of the organization and those who are a part of it. This is an effect rather than a capability. We are not suggesting that people must be capable enough to have a positive impact; we are arguing that this must be their intent.

When Steven Hauschka suggested that the Seahawks not kick a field goal, it was requisite that he said so intending to help the team win the game.

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9: Prove It’s Safe

Kincaid, Matt; Crandall, Doug Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Vulnerability is not weakness. . . . Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.

—BRENÉ BROWN, TED TALK, MARCH 2012

DURING THE SUMMER after his junior year of college, Matt Kincaid decided to take on a College Pro Painters franchise in an attempt to earn more money than the measly $2,500 he had earned during previous summer jobs. He knew a guy who had earned $14,000 one summer doing this, which was plenty of incentive to give it a try. He learned the ins and outs of the business and hired nine college students to work for him, including his friend Seth. He’d known Seth since the eighth grade and trusted him immensely. Seth quickly became the foreman for one of the three crews.

All summer Matt did everything he could to stay a week or two ahead of his workers, providing estimates to anyone who would listen. He even paid cute college girls to knock on neighborhood doors, smile and flirt with whoever answered (hopefully a young guy), and solicit more estimates. When he wasn’t giving estimates, he was painting alongside his crews. He didn’t sleep much, regularly putting in fifteen-hour days, but running a business for the first time was exhilarating.

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2: Great Ideas and Terrible Ones

Kincaid, Matt; Crandall, Doug Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

You can’t just give someone a creativity injection. You have to create an environment for curiosity and a way to encourage people and get the best out of them.

—SIR KEN ROBINSON, BLOOMBERG INTERVIEW, FEBRUARY 22, 2006

WHEN ORGANIZATIONS EMPOWER every person—at every level—to share ideas, innovation thrives, engagement scores go up, and feelings of ownership increase. This short chapter could almost qualify for the “tell me something I don’t know” category, so we’ll tell you something you probably don’t know.

It turns out we all have a blind spot when it comes to hearing others’ ideas—a big one worthy of discussion: people tend to harbor a hidden bias against creativity. Almost no one will say it out loud, but research suggests that it’s close to universally true. We prefer known solutions, especially in times of uncertainty. Ironically, it’s at times of uncertainty that creative solutions are often most needed. Leaders will opt for slightly new ideas, but don’t go shouting “Earth revolves around the sun” on us or you’re bound to get shot down. “American culture worships creativity,” stated an article in The Atlantic in October 2014, “but mostly in the abstract.” In order to gain idea acceptance, the writer recommended that people “frame new ideas as old ideas—to make your creativity seem, well, not so creative.”1 Not bad advice for those suffering under the thumb of tone-deaf leadership, but not the advice of this book. As leaders, we must stop holding our people prisoner to the idea that they must present all thoughts and ideas the right way—that is, the way that keeps us feeling comfortable.

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