THE Guiding Principle

THE Guiding Principle

What if someone, like a golden fish you just caught, tells you: “From now on, each of your decisions will be the right one”. Isn’t that something that we never think of as one of the 3 wishes!?

Sounds foolish I know…please read on!

THEGuidingPrincipleDan and Chip Heath in their book Made to Stick talk about six principles for sticky ideas. They call it SUCCESs – Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions and Stories. A couple of nice examples they try to pull out. The first is about the simplicity in the Southwest Airlines, a low-fare company. The Southwest Airlines comparing to their competitors is the profitable for the last 30 years. The philosophy that is foundation for their decisions is based on a single sentence: “We are THE low-fare company”. All initiatives to provide more services to the passengers needed to pass the test against their philosophy. Serving the Cesar salad instead of a portion of peanuts didn’t pass the test. Another example comes from journalism. When journalist writes a story then the most important sentence must come first. It is called a lead. All information that follow after the lead are presented in the decreasing order of priority/importance. It suits readers’ reading preferences and maximizes the valuable information. It is a good practice that is de facto a standard in the industry.

Both of the examples are guiding principles.

What is the guiding principle in the industry of SW creation? How do we consistently make decisions? How do we consistently behave? How do we make such a culture? These questions were brought on the table (or better to say on the whiteboard) by our agile coach a while ago. He wrote it:

“[Tweet “Our Guiding Principle is to always decide for a benefit and improvement of our people”]”.

So if we say, and we usually do, that people are our best assets, we should treat our best assets as priority. Is this possible?

We nowadays work in the environment of things; numbers, charts, reports, processes, rules, profit… Do we really listen and meet the needs of the folks? It sounds naive, perhaps stupid for some, but not for Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies – one of the fastest growing information technology services company. He explained it nicely in his book Employees First, Customer Second.

Also, not stupid at all for Bob Marshall (@flowchainsensei on Twitter) that calls this principle the antimatter principle. On his blog he writes the simple slogan: “Attend to folks’ needs!

It complements a lot something we call the servantship! Please check it on my blog post Are You Trying to Tell Me I Should Serve?