Being metrics-driven leads to brutal intellectual honesty

From Brutal Intellectual Honesty by Tomasz Tunguz, paraphrasing a comment by Aruba Networks CEO Dominic Orr:

Brutal intellectual honesty. There are too many decisions to make in too little time. You want to get all the facts on the table, have an honest debate for a period of time, and at the end of the time, make a decision and go. Once ego becomes involved, people have to find a way to save face, which is incredibly time wasting. And if you recall, time is the only competitive resource we have.

According to Dominic, to elicit intellectual honesty from a management team demands coaching and counseling team members individually, so each person is comfortable enough in their environment and confident enough in their own opinions to speak their mind freely. Only then can a team determine the best route to pursue.

(1) There’s a strong connection between being metrics-driven and being intellectually honest. If your success is defined entirely by how well you achieve your goals and metrics, you’ll care only about which arguments are correct and which ideas are the best, irrespective of who they come from. If, on the other hand, your success isn’t defined by metrics, but by who comes across as the most competent or impressive, it matters a lot who comes up with the best ideas and who wins the arguments.
(2) This is why metrics-driven organizations are fundamentally more meritocratic. If you don’t measure, reward and promote people for achievement of goals and metrics, politics and ego will fill the vacuum.
(3) Getting managers to be truly metrics-driven is far harder than it seems. In my experience, it also requires significant coaching. Managers can say they’re metrics-driven, but in reality they’re not. “Even though I missed my numbers, I still did lots of good things…”.

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