154. The Shape of Leadership
Imagine if there were something so critical that every single company relied on it; something vital for every single leader and employee to understand.
But what if this thing, this critical element, didn’t have a name?
Or maybe it was referred to by so many different names that it was never easy to reference.
Well, it exists. And I’m here to tell you about it.
It is a triangle.
This particular triangle is very important. This triangle governs decision-making. It defines company culture. In fact, this triangle impacts the very growth trajectory of an organization.
The triangle I’m speaking of doesn’t have a single name but it’s known by many. Iron triangle, project triangle, flexibility matrix, and productivity triangle are but a few.
I tend to use “productivity triangle” because, well, 5 syllable words are fun to say. Plus, I like thinking about productivity. I’m weird like that. Try not to hold it against me.
Alright, let me explain.
The Productivity Triangle
There are three corners to the Productivity Triangle. They are speed, quality, and cost.
The catch? You can only have two of them in any given scenario.
Let me give you a for instance.
Let’s say you are creating an important product. Think of any important product that you want to create. Got it? Good.
Now let’s say your goal is to build the product with little cost. Well, you have two options to choose from. You can either 1) focus on quality, which will take longer and force you to sacrifice speed. Or 2) you can rush to get it out in a short amount of time, which will inevitably sacrifice quality.
Want to have a high-quality product and get it a short amount of time? Welp, then you’re going to have to sacrifice cost, because quickly building quality products requires increased cost.
It can definitely be confusing. You know what, this would be a lot easier to understand with a good image. Here you go:
I know what you’re saying, I can hear you from here.
“This isn’t accurate,” you’re saying. “I can create a high quality product very quickly with low cost. I can have all three at once.”
Well, young Jedi, I believed that too at one point.
So go ahead. I invite you to try and prove the productivity triangle wrong. You can’t.
The Triangle’s Role In Company Culture
As a leader, the decisions you make become the rules that define a company’s culture.
Every decision you make is a microcosm of your company’s values.
How leaders manage decisions within the Productivity Triangle becomes a reflection of the company culture.
If every one of your decisions is about fast turnaround and low cost, it sends the message to employees that leadership is not concerned with the quality of the company’s output.
What could happen?
People inherently want to be proud of what they do. If you sacrifice quality, you sacrifice pride in work.
Similarly, if decision-making is solely based on speed and quality, the message being sent to others is that money is not a concern - an attitude that may quickly trickle down into rising expense reports.
Whether you were aware of the Productivity Triangle or not, I can assure you that it’s impacted your life. Next time you’ve got a decision to make, pay attention to how you perceive the triangle. Let me know what you find.
“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else."
- Peter Drucker
GOAT. The most winning athlete of all time is someone you’ve never heard of (Francis)
Besties. Be the world’s best at something (the easy way out)
Shortages. Stock up on these things (supply chain)
Another Useless Website. check to see if you’re computer is on (hmmm)
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