Good Intentions are Never Enough

Everyone has good intentions… Everyone WANTS to do the right thing (e.g., read the doc sent out by email the night before). But good intentions are never enough.

Stuff doesn’t get done based solely on people’s good intentions. Change can’t happen based only on good intentions. What you need is a way to mechanize people’s good intentions.

“Mechanisms” are the way. A Mechanism is a complete process that ensures things get done. A complete process is a ‘virtuous cycle’ that reinforces and improves itself as it operates like a snowball rolling downhill.

Within a complete process is a tool. The tool is the structure that a leader (everyone here’s a leader) creates to ensure stuff gets done or change happens. The tool is what transforms a set of inputs into a set of desired outputs.

Next, you need adoption. Leaders cannot “do” anything without getting others to adopt and implement mechanisms broadly. So strong leaders actively encourage and reinforce the adoption of mechanisms.

But nothing’s perfect. No mechanism is perfect. So leaders need to see if a mechanism is being adopted and understand if the use of the mechanism is leading towards the desired outputs. Inspection requires leaders to *audit* the output and course correct.

Leaders use audit mechanisms (yes, this gets recursive) to effectively dive deep into how the other mechanisms are working (or not) and drive improvements.

Pithy recap: Don’t rely on good intentions. Instead, invent complete processes based around a tool and drive adoption. Inspect and audit to improve over time. Repeat.

Here’s my post on Mechanisms.

The best non-internal-to Amazon resource on Mechanisms I’ve found is this AWS Summit Talk.

Debate this topic with me:

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