“A triumph of ambition over adhesion”

This was a quote from a client, Shaun, when we were chatting about a 360 appraisal.  He is a Formula 1 fan – (pretty serious – went to the Singapore Grand Prix on his honeymoon!)

The quote was from a TV commentary on the race were Lewis Hamilton won this years championship…but as with a lot of sport, the metaphor helps us in other business settings than formula one’s rarefied atmosphere…

  1. “If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got”.  F! always pushes the boundaries.  If you don’t fail sometimes though, you aren’t going to win…simple.
  2. “There are 3 types of organisation:  Those who make things happen: Those who watch what happens; Those who wonder what happened.”  Would the cars go as fast and as efficiently if F1 wasn’t in group 1 here?  Would we have diesel turbo’s and low emissions without their research?  Would the UK be further behind the technology curve if 95% of F1 research wasn’t done in the UK?  Most organisations in my experience are in the middle group.  Top and bottom – maybe 5 % of organisations – the top ones thrive, the wonder what happened go out of business.  The fastest moving organisations tend to have loads of new ideas – but then pick on a few and push them remorselessly, and confidently.  You can’t do 20 things at once..but you can do 3…

A lot of the thinking about the quote “a triumph of ambition over adhesion” applies to individuals and to projects as well as to organisations as a whole.  Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter (“The Change Masters”) said that projects often failed just as they were about to ‘work’.  The naysayers keep telling you ‘told you so – we tried it before…’.  And it is just at the time when the project team are too tired to fight back.  They lose their adhesion, and the project slips away…

And finally, just think of yourself – have you ever slid off the track because you didn’t think and plan carefully enough?  Or at least, made sure that as you ‘went for it’, you had systems in place to stop a complete breakdown?

I think metaphors are useful, and just help us sort the wheat from the chaff – especially if we are a bit stuck!

(Thanks for the idea, Shaun)

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