Posted on 21 August 2007

Clock Building, Not Time-Telling

Relevant to my post last week about things to change in the Recruiting industry, I am reminded of a concept in “Good to Great” and “Built to Last” discussing how to build greatness that lasts:

Clock Building, Not Time-Telling

Of course, it sounds simple on the surface (all good philosophical phrases are) but their implications are far deeper. What’s the difference? Well, Built To Last says it like this:

Built to Last by Jim Collins, Jerry I. Porras“Imagine you met a remarkable person who could look at the sun or stars at any time of day or night and state the exact time and date: ‘It’s April 23, 1401, 2:36AM and 12 seconds.’ This person would be an amazing time teller, and we’d probably revere that person for the ability to tell time. But wouldn’t that person be even more amazing if, instead of telling the time, he or she built a clock that could tell the time forever, even after he or she was dead and gone.”

– James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras,
Chapter 2: “Clock Building, Not Time Telling”, Built to Last

So, what are you doing in your organization and in your life that’s TIME-TELLING, but not CLOCK-BUILDING?

Kaushal Kurapati says it like this: “From my work experience I have noted that giving people the freedom to fail and supporting their decisions–after scrutiny–even when they fail is a way to generate trust and delegate responsibility. Leaders who criticize folks in the company for failing just because they (leaders) weren’t involved is a sure shot way to incorporate time telling into the organization.”

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