Bev White

My name is Bev White and I am the CEO of Harvey Nash Group, a $1bn global technology recruitment, IT solutions and leadership services group with 36 offices across the USA, Europe and Asia

Incrementally better

In the past few weeks I have written about the importance of choosing wisely where to spend time in life as a whole, and in work specifically.

Like many of us I am sure, I get excited at the prospect of doing something new, taking on a new challenge, finding new ways of solving long standing issues. You name it, the minute somebody puts this kind of opportunity in front of me I am there, eager and wanting to play my part. For a long time I felt there is ‘nothing wrong with that’. But I now realise that while sometimes that might be the right thing to do, at other times it really isn’t.

Now, and going forward, I have decided to ask some key questions, beginning with ‘should we do this?’ If the answer is a clear ‘we should!’ then ‘why me’? What value can I add that another person in the business couldn’t do even better? If I do take this on, what happens to the other commitments I made and will they make more difference to the business than me doing this particular new thing?

I could go on with the questions but you get where I am going on this. The questions cause me to pause and think before saying what has been the usual ‘count me in, I’m there, let’s go!’

Also, by asking myself why me, why not somebody else, I am potentially denying another colleague the opportunity to get involved in something new, assuming they too are happy to do so. I am frequently surprised and overjoyed to gain new insight on how we view life, what our perspectives are. This is the value of us as a team over being a single contributor. Assigning the best person for an opportunity is what is important here.

Alongside this has been the relentless pursuit of getting just a little better every day. I have spoken to quite a few colleagues over my 14 months in the Harvey Nash Group who subscribe to this way of working too. It’s very satisfying to look back a few weeks and see just how much has improved by living the incrementally better every day approach.

I know that there are quite a few of us in the business who are fans of Formula 1 motorsport racing. I am reminded of just how much the incremental gains approach is deeply embedded in this sport. I remember watching a pit stop that the Ferrari team recorded in slow motion. Every member of the team and the driver practised frequently to do their part in the pit stop so that in a race they didn’t have to think about their role, it was muscle memory that kicked in as it was such a familiar process.

In this particular instance I watched as the guy on the jack at the front of the car lent forward and picked up a tiny speck of material from in front of the car before releasing him into the race once more. The attention to detail was phenomenal. Of course because this is a process operated by humans mistakes still get made but more times than not they shave incremental parts of seconds off their time and during the course of a race perfectly executed pit stops can make the difference between winning and losing.

I think about this often and it is fun finding ways to be just a little better today than yesterday, all the while working on the things that really make the difference. Of course there are other days when I just go with the flow because being human we get to make choices.

Well as we head to the weekend, this Friday we are on holiday in the UK and other parts of the world to enjoy the long Easter weekend. I wish everyone rest and relaxation and to keep safe and well.

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