PDCA circles or just circles – choice is yours!
In the corporate world, we use the PDCA model extensively. If it is the engineering field, fairly expected, everyone works through control charts. It is true even in the creative field, sometimes explicitly in terms of steps, client deliverables, review check points and sometimes, almost sub-consciously. Yet, when it comes to one’s own life; people just don’t do a PDCA.
I hear things like making plans or loyalty is passé; today one has to move around to gain experience. So if in the corporate world, some people jump companies every 2 years; in the start-up world it is pivoting constantly to apparently stay nimble & relevant even before building a strong foundation. Maybe time to understand the difference between skimming the surface and actually building solid experience! It is important that when you are exploring you are taking it to the logical point to make an observation, take a decision and then explore again.
One of my favourite concepts in economics is the ‘Point of Diminishing Returns’. I have thoroughly enjoying extrapolating the concept for everything from advertising spends to employee productivity to a personal favourite; how many cakes can I eat before the point kicks in! It does apply to life as well. The way I look at it, if you abandon before you reach the point; the effort that you have put in is also largely wasted. After a certain stage if you are stagnating or the value-add is not in line with expectation then abandoning or changing course makes sense.
Even in one’s career, it is important to think through on whether I have done enough, am I growing or stagnating, is my decision based on adequate empirical evidence before I decide to stay or decide to leave. A strong foundation is always the key, whether you are a corporate executive or an entrepreneur or a professional, the principle stays the same. Of course, you have to keep learning and staying relevant to the changing landscape but without a solid base, it will count for far less.
Today it is easier to get caught out. I used to often wonder & with all due respect without naming them, there were certain people I looked at & thought how had they ever become VPs & Presidents. Could people not see that the person was rather superficial?! Honestly in earlier times, it took much longer to get caught out; you could be average but by playing brilliant politics or sometimes by just not playing any but sticking around long enough for others to kill each other – whatever the method; you survived. You survived by playing the game or by being a silent spectator not ruffling any feathers, either way you prevailed in spite of being average.
Today it is not that simple. More & more, especially in the last few years, at least at senior levels, if you are shallow, you will get exposed. Ambition can take you quite far but without consistent performance, only that far. So the aspect that bothers me is whether people are spending enough time acquiring that foundation, the fundamentals that will see them through life. Skimming the surface is not the same as exploring options to build your career. Exploring the option at the end of the day involves staying the course long enough to factually understand whether what I am doing is really working, is it in the space I want to be in, what more do I need to do or is this it. The risk otherwise is that you are just running after fads & things you believe will give you the next big buck.