I think for many of us, our first projects involved small plastic bricks that could snap together to make grand visual representations of our wildest dreams come to life. Of those, I distinctly remember two ways that I progressed. In the first, I simply dumped out all of the bricks, then put them together in basic shapes until I ended up with a crude approximation of what I was going for. Those were great, but they were never particularly precise. The other way was when I sat down and really thought about what I was going to build. Sure, sometimes I would use those instructions that came with the more complex sets as a rough guide, but I would always diverge a little bit. I would envision exactly what parts I needed, sometimes writing them down, always with the idea that I had everything and that I knew where it was.
However, when the time came to actually build my project, I would always run into a specific problem. It didn’t occur at the beginning. That would be too easy. No, it always seemed to happen that, just as I got halfway through my awesome new creation, I would be missing that one piece that would let me progress. In my head, I knew that I put it somewhere, that at some point in time I had bought seemingly limitless numbers of the small square bricks that would act as the cornerstone or cudgel for this model, but yet it wasn’t there. I would be forced to disassemble and start anew, and by that time it would be time to go to bed, having nothing to show for all my planning and work.
I have found the lessons of childhood translate well into adulthood. When we assume that we have all the pieces in place without checking, or that they will be where we put them last, we are often startled to find that we cannot find them at all. Particularly when dealing with that most important and elusive block of all, the employee, we realize that it is not enough to know where they were, but where they are, and where they are going to be. Failure to do so means that we will not, cannot build the big models that showcase our talent and put us in the spotlight. It limits our business intelligence and places a strain on every other resource we have.
When we were kids, we could build again the next day if our project went awry. As adults, we don’t always have that luxury.