Pants. I put them on every weekday


It’s quite cheap to be wrong. I can usually do it for free. Being right requires a bit more investment. Conversely, remaining wrong can be wildly expensive and remaining right can be very profitable.


But if you do it wrong, you can spend a lot of money trying to be right. I watched Company J2 [1] spend three years and millions of dollars not shipping what should have been a simple app. The project got reset multiple times because there was an ownership void and everyone wanted control. Politics. Very expensive politics. Because people were more interested in being the one who was right than in the company finding the right answer. I suspect that some non-trivial percentage of our entire economy is consumed by internal corporate slap fights.


It makes some measure of sense upon investigation. We tend to be fairly myopic. We tend to fight the fights in front of us. And those are internal. Standard incentivations reinforce this. Generally, promotions happen due to internal recognition (winning internal fights). Plus being right just feels good. All of which ignores the actual goal of delivering value to the customer. 


As the leader of a group, I try to do two things. First, when I feel myself starting to dig in my heels I ask myself whether I’m advocating for the customer or myself. It’s just a quick check. Emotions happen; it doesn’t mean they must rule us. Second, I try to recognize victories of alignment. Sometimes the best way forward is to agree with someone, to allow them to change your mind, to concede. This simple act is almost never celebrated. And it should be. We should cooperate internally and compete externally.


  1.  I know I said I was going to have continuity of pseudonyms, but I take it back. I’ve already lost track, so it’s going to be inconsistent.