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CONCLUSION – UNAFRAID TO LOSE
If it's worth playing, it's worth paying the price to win.
—PAUL "BEAR" BRYANT
The solution to this sorry state of affairs lies in allowing people to take risks even if they don't always bring home the bacon. When I talked about Creative Problem Solving, I said that good ideas often come as hybrids of "bad" ideas, and that if you want your people to be creative and involved in your operation, you've got to motivate them to be so. The point applies to every business I've ever seen. If you want progressive, nimble people on your team, you've got to reinforce the risk-taker, not the stick-in-the-mud whose career goal is to follow your lead.
If you do this, I'll tell you what's going to happen. Sometimes you're going to win, and sometimes you're going to lose. That's a fact. I don't care how good your team is, or how religiously you follow the motivational principles I've been laying out in this book, sometimes you're still going to lose. Sometimes the person you reinforced for being inventive is going to invent another Edsel, and you're going to lose time and money.
And that's where your real test comes in. That's when you've got to say, "OK, we blew it here. Let's find out why. Let's use a little Pinpointing, and Recording, and Evaluation and see what happened, and what we can do to fix it." Rather than saying, "Oh God, we just went out on a limb and it got cut off. Let's never go out on a limb again."
It always bears repeating: Winning means being unafraid to lose. I mean being unafraid not because you don't give a damn or because the game doesn't really matter all that much, or because you like the thrill of being #2. I mean being unafraid because you know the long-term figures. You know that, if you're in the game for the whole game, and the whole season, and the whole life of your company, you can afford a mistake now and then, because in the long run allowing those mistakes creates a more motivated and more productive team than firing every fumbler on the spot.
You know what happens to a football team that is terrified of losing? It loses. Period. It gets so psyched up worrying about the coming defeat that it creates its own self-fulfilling prophecy; the people on the team spend so much time thinking about the Final Outcome that they screw up all the little things they have to do well to make that outcome rosy. And they end up with weeds instead. That's what happened to the bankers who went running for the Penn Square bonanza. They were so afraid of losing out to the big guys that they followed them right into the hole.
The fact is that, in business as well as in sports, you only need to be right 60 or 70 percent of the time to come out with a championship season. That may not sound like much, but think of how you would feel if your company was producing 60-70 percent of the output in your particular industry. Or had a 60-70 percent share of an ad market. I'd say that deserved champagne, not tears.
The real winners know this is true. For example, consider this comment: "Every man's got to figure to get beat sometime." Sound like a loser? Sound like some wimpy, non-motivated plodder who just doesn't want to give 100 percent? That comment was made by Joe Louis, the fabled Brown Bomber of the 1930s who held the heavyweight crown for longer than anyone else in history and who retired for good in the 1950s with a 68-
3 record. Unafraid to lose. A winner.
Or take one of football's all-time winners: the Green Bay Packers' Vince Lombardi. Lombardi is constantly quoted as saying, "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing." What he actually said is subtly different. In his 1973 memoir Vince Lombardi on Football, he wrote, "What I said is that 'Winning is not everything—but making the effort to win is.' " Like every other winner and every great motivating manager, Lombardi knew that the Perfect Season idea was far more legend than reality. He knew nobody could ever take home all the trophies. And he knew that putting in your best effort—giving the game all your drive and concentration and involvement—was what really made you a winner.
Doing that, of course, means taking risks. Not crazy, off-the-wall gambles. I'm not advising anybody to shoot popguns off in the dark. As you know from the P.R.I.C.E. system I've described, I'm a strong believer in careful assessment and reassessment and re-reassessment. But that is a lot different from saying, "We have always done it this way, and it's the safest way, and we will continue to do it this way." Intelligent management is the art of balancing the "eagle" and the "mule" in every player. It is the skill of motivating each person to realize his or her highest potential—even when doing that means running the risk of losing yardage.
Losing yardage, of course, is always a risk. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't play. A lot of savvy coaches will tell you, "When you pass the football, three things can happen, and two of them are bad." The two bad things are an incompletion and an interception, but just because the odds are two-to-one doesn't mean you shouldn't ever pass. Even with the odds against you, if you're going to win any ball game, you'd better be able to pass. Yes, you'll lose yardage. But that's part of the price you pay for winning, and taking calculated risks is part of every good manager's way of dealing with his people.
In the end it comes down to that—to people. We're great at getting managers to deal with machines and numbers and flow-charts and cost-benefit projections. We're not nearly so good at getting them to deal with the human material that makes all of those other things happen. The managers who are going to lead things for the rest of this century and beyond will be the ones who understand their people, who understand that what folks want—and what they need in order to give their best—goes way beyond a paycheck. The leaders will be those who understand that every member of their team needs to know exactly what's expected of him, needs to have access to a score-keeping system that lets him know how he's doing, needs to feel that he's contributing to the team, needs to get constantly and consistently reinforced for that participation, and needs to have access to feedback on how the team is doing.
You'll probably recognize this litany as a restatement of the P.R.I.C.E. system. That's no accident. I really believe that the secret to managerial success today lies in applying the five principles of that system—Pinpointing, Recording, Involvement, Consequences, and Evaluation—to each and every human situation. That's the way to get the best out of your people. And the reason it works is very simple: it's that paying this "P.R.I.C.E." for success recognizes that your people are people, and not just machines with opposing thumbs.
In the end, the most successful managers will be those who can motivate to win because they understand what turns people on. I hope the principles I've laid out in this book will help you do that more effectively. I hope they will help you nurture and reinforce the most creative and flexible and, yes, risky aspects of your business environment. And I hope you will come to understand that taking a chance on your teammates always, in the long run, pays off. Not just in bottom-line results like better productivity and better quality, but in better people results too.
For me, that's always been the best thing about putting a P.R.I.C.E. system into place. It's great taking the tangible results to the bank. But it's even better watching employees grow: watching them develop into real team members. People with real team spirit, and real involvement, and a real commitment to putting in 100 percent, all the time.
People with the old ziperoo.
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