Good Advice Often Makes Bad Things Happen

Mike Myatt, who writes on leadership, says it straight. In a post titled Really Bad Advice, he first sets the scene:

I just finished reading an article where the author (a self professed innovation guru) recommended strategy be aligned with capability, and that to allow ambition to exceed capability is a nothing short of a recipe for disaster.

And then he tears into that:

Let me get right to it – if you want to fail as a leader then please follow the flawed advice given by the wizard of innovation mentioned in the opening paragraph. But if you want to rise above the crowd and become a truly innovative leader, I’d ask you to regard said advice for what it is – more of the same. It’s just another well-intentioned sound bite that will destroy your company and your career if you choose to follow it.

The underlying problem, much more general than Mike’s specific issue, is quite common: Good advice makes bad things happen. Business, like life itself, is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Every case is different. What worked for me could easily be disastrous for you. I’m flattered when people ask my advice, but I’m always hoping they have the common sense to listen, digest, evaluate my story for their situation, and execute on it only if it actually makes sense for them, then, in their situation. I shudder when it seems like people are going to just execute on my advice without internalizing first.

Meanwhile, back with the specific issue on strategy, Mike puts his objection very clearly:

leaders who complain about a lack of resources, are simply communicating they are not very resourceful. Great leaders find a way to develop and/or acquire the best capability in order to create a certainty of execution around a winning strategy. If you want to fail as a leader, hire B and C talent and ask them to win with an inferior strategy. Thinking in a limited manner will only accomplish one thing – it will limit your future.

That too, I think, is good advice that might or might not apply to some other situation. To be taken in moderation, and used with care.

Conclusion: This goes straight to my general feeling that there are no such things as best practices.



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    […] believe advice. Don’t follow advice. Good advice often makes bad things happen. (Yes, I get the irony here.) Everything is case by case. Receive advice gratefully, think about […]

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