I think the first time I heard this, my mentor, Rodger Lewis, used it to show my team and me a set of values by which to work. He showed us that mutual trust and respect was equally important as a driver as SQPC. At some point, he said almost glibly, that you have to balance the human and operational.
It made sense to me: as a career Naval officer, you come to know that this balance is critical to long-term success. Because it made sense, I didn’t think too much about it.
Now, a decade later, I have realized that this balance is a state that great organizations are perpetually seeking.
What is so natural to the skilled military leader is quite unnatural to others who live and work in operational contexts. In fact, what I have observed is a degree of polarity that is confounding. Either the leader lists to the human side and sacrifices operations or he lists to the operational and leaves a trail of hurting people behind himself.
What Rodger knew deeply is that striking a balance is the sweet spot.
It takes work to keep things in balance. I recall when my oldest daughter started to learn “point” in her ballet classes. To make it look effortless and graceful requires skill, strength, and arduous practice. Balance is hard.
Sadly, most organizations make it even harder through structure or practice having siloed human systems and operational systems.
When does your system seem balanced? What kind of conditions throw it out of balance?0