That's How the Light Gets In
I have recently been on a Leonard Cohen kick listening to his original s as well as cover albums. (Let me suggest Here It Is: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen for your listening pleasure.)
One of Cohen’s songs that really speaks to me is Anthem. (Which interestingly is not on any cover album I found, though Father John Misty does an interesting version on his Anthem +3 EP.)
The most famous line of the song, and the one that interests me, is
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
The line applies particularly to leadership.
We work to make the perfect offering--the perfect proposal, the perfect meeting. When we ask our teams to tackle an issue, we are hoping for the perfect plan, the perfect execution. And it is never perfect. There is always a crack (or two or three). Instead of perseverating on the cracks look to the light that gets through.
The light, the things that did not go exactly to plan, is where learning takes place. It is critical to debrief after you note the cracks to determine what you have learned and how to do things better next time. Too many leaders do not take the time to do post mortems on what well and what could be done better. The time looking back pays many dividends going forward.
Unless the cracks are so big that they threaten the entire project embrace the light they let in.