skeptic, builder, makes a mess

The skeptic builder makes a mess

sawmill, skeptic

STOP! Do you believe THAT is how to cut defects in half?

Start with belief in why you build something or before you build. A skeptic without belief usually delivers disappointment. Sadly, leaders overlook skeptics in their midst and the very people who were to deliver make a mess.

Whether a company, organization, network, business, or personal development, the believer is crucial for strong growth. The past few years continue to expose me to leadership that charter the wrong people to build enterprise solutions, process, business governance, or business strategy.

A senior person that charters someone in power to make change plows forward with consequences. Implementations led by a non-believer that acts as highest paid person’s opinion (HiPPO) will wreak havoc from initial directives through final directives.

People in charge that do not believe in the solution or remain a skeptic create trouble.

This happens too much.

Without belief in what you do time is constantly spent in dubious pursuit based of fear of the HiPPO’s wrath. To get anything accomplished this is the wrong person.

Beyond the cost and productivity another cost consequence is motivation of those that report to the HiPPO or subjected who actually believe(d).

We the Skeptic

All of us have something in common. That something is that we all usually start as a skeptic.

You, me, and others may know something. We may not, but think back to a host of management theories:

  • Total Quality Management,
  • Lean-Six Sigma,
  • Balanced Scorecard,
  • Business Process Reengineering,
  • Agile,
  • Zero-cost Budgeting,
  • X & Y Theory,
  • Requisite Organization,
  • Motivation Theory,
  • Digital Transformation,
  • Dev/Ops,
  • Systems Theory,
  • Offshoring,
  • Value Stream Mapping,
  • Business Architecture

Before we can build we need to believe. Just because you believe in something does not mean you can start to build the change you want to see.

Healthy skeptics are crucial to filter and to challenge thought. We can not know everything when we filter much through our go-to methods or bias.


For clarity sake, belief is a spectrum, someone might land on one side, “I believe that will work”. Slide all the to “I absolutely believe that”.  One could start with a curious belief. The key is a learning mindset.

Executives with an eight-mile, high view, charter to ‘why’ to do something empower others deliver to. They need to evaluate the belief of the HiPPO and if this is a believer for this directive. At certain points, skeptics are welcomed, but once chartered we need to board the willing.

In a zeal to change what the end-state must look like, executives make a critical mistake to put HiPPOs they expect know ‘how’ do something without knowing if their HiPPO is a believer.

Without belief bureaucracy and politics take charge.

Worse, those that do believe in why to change and have experience with what to change will lose motivation. As the project, or effort, really, as change is constant, slogs on, people fail to engage and good no longer becomes an option.

The wrong person in a power position to drive adoption becomes a liability.

What Results When

When I say the wrong person, I mean the skeptic. Leadership articulates ‘what’ has to happen and ‘why’ it has to happen, leaders expect others with ‘how’ to make it happen and ‘when’.

What if the person empowered with change is skeptical of the change?

Skeptics charged to build solutions challenge believers and potential solutions. As skeptics they do not, themselves, know what to enable.

Whether enterprise application, project method, process, training, information technology direction, software development, or continuous delivery the skeptics mindset does not believe.

A leader expects their HiPPO will build and prioritize change. Let a skeptic drive business change? When a leader does not understand if their HiPPO in charge is a skeptic or believer, the only trust expected is change will not occur.

It is leadership’s accountability to find those most able to build upon belief that change needs. As Shakespeare said, “the readiness is all“. Those not ready should never be accountable.

Leaders best find a way to understand those that are ready.

Let’s talk about the belief to build in the next post: Belief to build, the skeptic’s dilemma.

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