Early in my career I learned a very valuable lesson. If you really want to change anything it helps to be insane. The project sponsor for my first “real” IT project was an absolute nut. We’ll call him Dave. Everybody knew it. Dave would speak out in meetings, tell people they were wrong to their face (instead of behind their back like its usually done) and disagree with the boss – out-loud. When he thought he was right – he would not be stopped.
You may wonder why I considered Dave to be insane. Well it is simple – he flagrantly ignored Maslow’s hierarchy of need. He sacrificed with abandon his ability to support his basic physical needs (his job) in pursuit of ideals like process improvement. Oh lots of people would give it lip service but Dave put his career on the line. More than once. And never really got rewarded for making things better. Crazy right? Because of his personality – when his department needed IT work – they made Dave the liaison. IT hated him. I thought he was great.
The pattern has repeated itself over the years. Somewhere at the heart of every big and most small changes is a certifiable nut job who doesn’t care if they fire him. He (or she) just wants it done right. For the good of the company, the customer or the country. If you wonder why things don’t always change for the better, it is becasue crazy people are deciding what to do. Only the law of averages keeps the spinning top from falling off the table.
Dave had one overwhelming quality. Passion. He loved what he was doing. You may question the method or manner but never the motivation. His heart was in the right place. The next time your Dave goes off on a rant in the office – give him a little rope. Sure he might hang himself with it but that just may be the rope he throws back to pull you out of the pit your inaction has put you in.
P.S. Politicians are crazy too. Most suffer from Excessive Passion Disorder just like Dave. For many though – the thing they are passionate about is themselves.