We’ve all read stories about a hero who faces a daunting and insurmountable challenge; he must battle impossible odds and exhibit superhuman skills to surge past the finish line just in the nick of time. Am I impressed? Frankly, I am not. These are great stories to recount, but you can’t run successful enterprises that way.
Winning in business is not like running a 100-meter dash; it is more like running a marathon, where you must pace yourself and be ready to endure for the long haul.
If an enterprise is always battling to meet deadlines, if it owes its success only to the superhuman effort of a handful of heroes … then something is clearly wrong. The right way forward is to introduce processes (and discipline) that ensure that today’s job gets done today. The winning way is to doggedly stay on course, day after day, and mile after mile.
Let me provide you with an actual example. Back around 2004, TEOCO’s primary focus was Network Cost Management, and our core product was BillTrak Pro. We were very focused on delivering a new software release every 6-months, both to address roadmap items and to respond to changes to industry standard invoice formats, but sticking to this schedule often required a Herculean effort from the product team.
It was around this time that Roman Cybyk took over the leadership of the Software Engineering function. His goal was to do timely releases, but without Herculean effort on the part of a small number of people. He found that the Software Build process was unreliable and taking too long. He instituted smarter processes and created a culture that produced the desired outcomes – without all the stress and upheaval.
At TEOCO, we try to nurture discipline in a way that promotes the potential for everyone to achieve extraordinary results. We set goals, we monitor performance, we throw challenges, we mentor, we reward … and we respect. With this approach, when you finally cross the finish line it is hardly a surprise; it is something that was always going to happen.