CHAPTER TWO
“Yes to the Mess”
Developing Affirmative Competence

We all know about messes. Messes are big problems. They gum up the works, retard progress, and deface our records—corporate and personal—with ugly black marks. Little wonder that a manager’s first impulse is to guard vigilantly against messes: to eliminate them if possible and clean them up expeditiously when they happen, including often getting rid of those responsible. This habit of housecleaning is hard to break, but consider the example of Amazon.com. In 2006, Amazon launched Unbox, a video download service that within a week was pronounced “a complete and utter failure.” Unbox took as long as seven hours to download a ninety-minute movie, and once downloaded, the movie could ...

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