Dash! Do You Have It?

Years ago, in a Human Resources certification program that I completed, one of the professors told us the story of the OSS, the original "secret agents" who were dropped into enemy territory during World War II, their mission to blend in and gather intelligence.

You may be asking yourself, Why was this story part of an HR program? The answer: the selection angle.

~ How did the OSS select the best candidates for the job of spy?

Before you read further, ask yourself that question, and see if you can come up with the critical criteria. OK? Ready to read on?

One of the intangible but vitally necessary qualities, the OSS discovered, was something the Brits called "dash."

Dash: spirited action; élan; vigor in action or style: "The dancer performed with spirit and dash."

The agents that had this thing called dash were the most daring risk takers. The ones who sized up a situation, almost always with limited information, and took action.

Do you have dash?

While mulling this over yesterday, I came across a recent blog entry by consultant Alan Weiss, called "Dash." What a coincidence!

Though he is talking about sprinting as a metaphor for effective consulting, he is quite close in spirit to what the OSS found. Weiss says that best sprinters are "ready for the gun." When opportunity comes along, they strike!

Do you have dash? There's an old saying that "He who hesitates is lost." Do you get snared by over-analyzing? By your own fears? The OSS agents who succeeded in their mission did gather info. They did feel fear. But they moved quickly when they sensed opportunity, knowing that this might be their only chance.

Does your organization's culture have dash? Does it value:
- a bias toward action to take initiative and seize opportunity?
- a closeness to the customer to sense needs early?
- a preference for collaboration and synergy?
- an open communication style so that everyone is engaged and in the know?
- a ceaseless search for learning and improvement that maintains a competitive edge?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, Feb 3, 2010


Joseph George said…
Dash for dash sake could be recipe for unmitigated disaster. Dash for a purpose that endears to all will mitigate some of such potential damage. thanks for posting the OSS heritage to the concept Terrence.
Terrence Seamon said…
It's interesting that you should link dash with disaster and damage. Maybe the conversation at ODNet is influencing you? To tie them together, I'd say that OD needs dash to help organizations in this recession. BTW I'll be blogging about this tomorrow.

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