Thursday, June 20, 2013

Measure Twice, Cut Once


Carpentry is the most critical skill in building a house. The gap between an architect's plans and the skeletal frame of a house lies in the skillful hands of the carpenter. He has to be able to read house plans, interpret scale, cut lumber to precise lengths and angles, and hammer everything into an amazing yet intricate frame of a soon-to-be home.

How does he do that so quickly? I mean in a matter of weeks the house goes from  a foundation to being enclosed in no time at all. The success or failure of a carpenter lies in his adherence to one concept:

Measure Twice, Cut Once

This trust but verify mentality makes the difference between a strong and sturdy home and a house that will eventually crumble to the ground.  The carpenter knows that lumber is very expensive and when it is cut hastily, it triples in value.  Mistakes are not only costly to the carpenter but to the strength of the frame. So he must ensure that before he cuts a piece of lumber, he must measure once to get the correct measurement and measure it a second or even third time to verify that the first measurement was indeed correct.  Once his measurement is verified, his steady hand must carefully saw the wood.

Lead like a Carpenter

Making decisions to move an organization forward requires the same mentality. Before deciding on the next steps, leaders must employ the precise analysis of a carpenter to build a transformational organization.  Essentially, more time is spent in reflection and analysis than actually making things happen.

Measure Twice

Leaders must gather data to verify the organization's current reality.  The first measurement requires leaders to gather student performance data (quantitative) as well as perceptions and gut reactions from all members helps leader make a plan of action.  The second measurement requires leaders to enlist followers to verify that the plan of action is the best and most precise plan to address the issue at hand.  Once the plan is created based on data and verified by all who are affected by the plan, the plan is ready to be executed.

Cut Once

The plan is created, so now is the time to saw into the lumber.  All members of the organization must follow the plans that have been collaborative created in order to make a change that will guide every member to collectively build a strong house of success.  Failure to execute a plan is the same as measure a board correctly, making your mark and then cutting the board in a completely different place.  The board is now useless.  The same result follows for precise plans that aren't followed with precision or worse are ignored all together.

Build the House

People must realize that each change in an organization is one more stud nailed into the frame of an organization.  We have a choice to make.  We can build a house that all would be proud to live in, or we can build a house that will crumble before our very eyes.  Leaders must be committed to linking the planning process to focused action if they desire to build an estate of excellence.

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