Monday, March 21, 2011

Hubris -- What's the Countermeasure?

By Pascal Dennis

Hubris is the ancient Greek word for arrogance, excessive pride or self-confidence. Hubris is arguably the most dangerous enemy of great companies.

What's the countermeasure?

Humility -- the extreme awareness of limits, of standards, of all that we are not.

Visual management, 5 S, standardized work and all the other elements of the Lean business system are designed to keep us humble.

Our old Toyota plant in Cambridge Ontario won many awards. "How could they give us an award?" we'd wonder. "We're so screwed up..."

We need great companies -- they show us what's possible. And great companies need humility -- for the same reason."

1 comment:

  1. At the 2010 AME conference in Baltimore, Malcolm Gladwell gave a great keynote on this topic. He presented a compelling narrative of the Civil War general "Fighting Joe Hooker" who, dispite everything in his FAVOR, famously lost the battle of Chancellorsville.

    He was so sure of his victory, he ignored all the signals otherwise, and anyone who would bring him news to the contrary.

    Walter Reade