Whenever you attempt anything, the thing that slows us down is waiting for permission. And most of us have been taught that getting approval is a risk-free approach. Should hell break loose, you will not be held to blame!
Are you one of the folks who believe this?
Early in my career, I discovered one truth. That over 70% of our project decisions and innovation need no permission. And they are localized, so you are the best judge. When we ask our boss for approval, it’s probably a very low-priority item on her/ his plate. So there is a delay – simply because she’s got other higher priority things to do!
Another 25% will be in the bucket of “OK to ask but not necessary.” Sometimes, you are fishing for a compliment or simply need a quick validation. You have done your work, and you know the risks – and you are confident that they will not bring ruin in any case. In these cases, it’s best to simply go ahead and start executing. Should things not work as expected, you can ask for forgiveness; the damage isn’t extensive anyway. Over the long term, the scale of innovation rewards will prove you right.
There’s a last 5% that can cause significant damage should things not go as planned. For these, it’s always best to take feedback and permission before going ahead. The delay and due-diligence in approvals are worth it.
I remember reading about Jeff Bezos preferring reversible, small currency decisions being owned by the individual directly. It’s when huge non-reversible items come up that his management gets involved. He feels this unlocks more innovation at speed.
I agree with him, do you?