Recently, my wife and I discussed a question her manager had posed to all his direct reports: “Who’s your ‘who’?” In other words, “Who’s that person or people that comes to mind when you ask yourself ‘Why do I do this?'” In our conversation, both mine and my wife’s answer were simultaneous, unanimous, and I imagine common for many individuals: it was each other and our children.
A few years ago I picked up a book called Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. A friend had recommended it to me with very few details other than, “You would like it.” What I found was not a manual about keeping your cool while tackling tricky motorcycle problems, but a treatise on quality. The author, Robert Pirsig, wove a beautiful tale of a man driven mad attempting to understand “Quality” and his cross country motorcycle road trip towards reconciliation. My friend was right, and I started thinking about how quality impacted everything. How we evaluate things and make decisions is all built on the foundation of Quality.
The SEI Atlanta office has grown in leaps and bounds since its inception. True to the SEI model, the growth has not been concentrated to a single area, but has been evenly distributed across the project engagement, recruiting, and collaborative aspects of our business. This expansion has brought with it a new challenge: maintaining the culture that was integral in achieving the aforementioned growth. In the face of substantial quarter over quarter growth, SEI-ATL has strived to stay true to the EPIC model in order to preserve its culture and high recruiting standards.
When looking for meaning behind a process or decision, how often have you heard: “That’s just always the way we’ve done it” and have the conversation end right there? After hearing this, you’ll probably go through the following stages of “Business as Usual”: anger at the easy response, confusion as you try to probe for a more meaningful answer, and finally acceptance when you decide that no one really knows why a particular action or process is done. This vagueness and complacency around even the most frequent or critical actions was something I’d come to accept as a norm in almost every organization. That is until I was introduced to SEI.