Thursday 27 June 2024

Protect high agency and enthusiasm; even at the cost of incremental improvements

When someone has an idea that is 80% good and has 100% motivation, it is better to let them proceed with it. A leader might be in a position to offer suggestions to improve it by 5%, but depending on the circumstances and the individual's personality, that incremental advice might reduce their motivation to 50%. This is not a great outcome for the leader. It is important to choose battles wisely.

Often, trying to improve something at an early stage can make it too complex and hinder its progress. A greater skill than technical prowess for a leader is knowing when an idea or project is good enough and needs execution experience before making it incrementally better. Gall's Law states that something complex emerges from simple behaviors, so knowing when to intervene is crucial.

When someone is motivated and has agency, they are more likely to deliver results. Protecting that agency and sustaining their motivation is key.

This applies to personal activities as well. As James Clear says, if someone is trying to build a new habit, it should be standardized in their routine before optimizing it. Progress before perfection is the mantra. That is why open goals have a better chance of succeeding than very specific and restrictive goals.

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