Alexandre Aschenbach

The Biggest Sin


How many times we her experts explaining what we must not do, examples of failures where the actions of one or more individuals caused huge losses? And so many other times they tell us what to do and how to do it.

This kind of approach causes fear of error. Many people believe this is important: if someone is afraid of making mistakes then he/she tend to act within the pre-established norms and standards, and some people believe this ensures the ideal outcome.

In my opinion this just ensures poor results. I am here to explain why I believe this is so.

Of course we must not adopt anarchy as a rule, but we must not limit the creativity, inhibit spontaneity and even less should we quit focusing on great results. And great results are only achieved with perseverance, discipline and creativity.

Let leave euphemisms aside and face the facts: the "cool people" you know or have heard about... do they always act "by the book"? Or did they avoided the conventional? Ignored some rules, maybe?

To cite only one real example, a few years ago I was managing a team of support analysts; after hours, when there was nobody else in the company, an attendant was resisting against the will of letting a customer talking to himself. She bravely tried to satisfy the customer by solving his problem but ultimately failed. By that time she had two alternatives: first, ask him to contact on the following day to request the an field analyst and, second, ensure he would have the field analyst next morning, ensuring the schedule.

She chose the second alternative.


She contacted some analysts, made the appointment and assured the customer that he would have someone there by the morning.

Problem solved? Of course not. She could not schedule analysts because she could not be sure I or any other coordinator had other plans. She had no right, much less a duty to do what she did. But she did it. And now it was time to explain to me what she had done.

When I arrived, despite the hot weather, she was not just shaking but also stuttering. She apologized, and with a guilty look, explained everything on details, trying, in every word, to apologize once again.

She finally finished, and I told her never to do that again, that she broke the rules, she acted outside of her powers and that she could not be sure of the real need of the analyst schedule. I did not stop there, stating that we need professionals who do break the rules when needed, which surpass expectations, which go beyond their duties to ensure the optimal results, which achieve outcomes wich are more than mediocre. I congratulated her, reinforcing that this should not be repeated ... but then I whispered just to her ears: "except if it needs to be repeated."

Writers, painters, administrators and philosophers, in short, all those worthy of further studies may be called "out of range". More than that: they are "outside the rules", they did what no one taught them, and ended up leaving the lessons aside in order to achieve best results.

I believe that we are teached to achieve mediocre results because our teachers have the fear that, seeking the best, we fail, or just because our teachers just do not know themselves how to obtain optimal results.

So I ask: what is the biggest sin? Achieve mediocre results or break some rules now or then?

Remember, never go beyond your duties, never forget to follow the rules, do everything "by the book"!

But listen to my whisper: in order to achieve great results, please do it!