Tuesday, March 04, 2003

The Stockdale Paradox

I wrote Saturday about the "players" I met at our recent trade show. They reminded me of a profound story told by Jim Collins in his outstanding book Good to Great.

Collins dubbed the story "The Stockdale Paradox" following a conversation with Ret Admiral James Stockdale. The story is told on pp 83-87 of the book and on Collins' web site.

Stockdale's story is of survival while in a North Vietnam prison camp for eight years. He articlated that those prisioners who survived had an amazing dual view of their situation. They confronted, directly, the most brutal facts of their situation AND they never lost faith that they would prevail. Read the story your self, it is moving.

The folks I met who were players had this attitude. They saw, clearly, the bleak business climate they faced. They didn't shy from it; in fact they could articulate clearly the specific challenges they faced. In addition, they calmly expected they would prevail; they were taking steps that meant they were acting as if they would prevail.

Those who are successful in Lean applications consistently go straight to the problem. They document reality. They identify the constraint and deal with it, straight up. Because of this, they know they have the tools to prevail.

It gave me much to think about. I hope this is helpful to you as well.

Feel free to forward to a friend. Email me

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