Darwin would be ashamed

You would actually say that evolution teaches us some really important live lessons; mostly that you have to learn from pas experiences and grow as if not to make previous made mistakes again. I love the comment that George Carling made in one of his shows which absolutely covers it all: “The child who can swallow the most marbles, doesn’t live long enough to have kids of his own.” Being a parent you sometimes have to make the decision what mistakes to have your child make to learn from it. I personally am a ‘trial-by-error’ kind of guy. I make mistakes, and learn not to make them again. People can teach you very well how to do things right, but sometimes it is good to learn how things can go wrong. Those life-lessons might come expensive from time to time, but you’ll learn. Or at least, I do.

Now, that does not apply just to anyone, which provides us with sarcastingly entertaining productions like the Darwing awards. Some people just make the same mistake over and over again. And instead of learning that A) they simply cannot do it and focus on something else or B) change their way and try again, they usually claim that the reason of failure had to do with external influences, and try and try again. Fine, but after 7 times, something should hit in you would say.

I have seen these people often. But usually it is not that bad dealing with them, not even in a team. You know that this is a flaw in this person’s functioning that you can work around with. But, it is a bit more difficult when this person is actually your boss or a team leader that you work under. Because what then usually sneaks in is the feeling of pride. People leading others, more often then not, do not want to be corrected by people ‘lower’ in the chain of command. Instead of seeing their role as part of the team, they see it as ‘their’ team or ‘their’ project. If there are more layers of command in the hierarchy, you can always talk to the person in command of the person causing the problem, but what if this problem is the owner of a company?

In my past I had to deal with the owner of a smaller marketing/multimedia company who believed in a concept he had, which I can only applaud. Because that creates dedication, and everything went fine for a long time while we were working to get his concept out there in the world. His ideas were based on findings from other researchers, but he never did any research himself. Then, after we had run many tests and online programs it was clear that the way how he visualized this technique working, simply did not work. Even if research said that people liked it in other scenarios, it did not work in ours. The concept costed him a lot of money, something I recognized from my time with my first company that went horribly wrong. But instead of changing the concept or take his losses, he tried again, and again, and again. And time after time, the productions failed. People were not interested. Even when we had good traffic, and they followed the predicted behavior path, people just did not want to ‘get the bait’.

If it would be ending with that, it would simply be another failed commercial project. Mind you, that is not always as bad as it sounds, most productions initialized in any commercial market fail. Simply because not everything can be a success. But you can learn about the failures and then adjust it with what you have learned, and evolve and try again. But, and I have seen it in the past, but never as much as I saw with this person, losing track of what happened. At one moment all his requests to add to the concept, without fixing and evolving what did not work, made the whole production unmanagable. There were so many functionalities that made it only more problematic. And in the end, he started selling it more and more aggressive, and lying about the productions just so that people would be interested. But because of the lying, he started to believe that his productions were able to do that. In the end, actually, where we are now, the production is out of control. And professionally trying to manage the project, cutting out the excessive parts and making it healthy again is being seen as a personal attack.

This is where a production gets out of control, and where you seriously have to consider to abandon ship. In the posting ‘Get Real’ I mentioned this already. But this time it is directed not to the owner of a project, but the people in there. Working in a renegade project like this hurts your carreer, your personal life and is simply not worth it. On the other hand, it is the perfect environment that, if you can stay long enough and look at it from the inside, to learn from someone elses mistakes, so you don’t have to make them too. Because, don’t think always that person managing or owning the program is so wrong. Like said before, it is dedication. And feeling dedicated to something that is your own idea, is usually a good thing. And it is easy to get lost into. Even if you see it happening to others and think it will not happen to you… think again.

Why I am then still working with this project?  First of all, I know where this man comes from and second of all, I can learn from the mistakes that I see. And I can try to avoid them, to see if that actually can reduce the problems. Because learning from someone elses mistakes is evolving too.

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