Lots of companies have a hero culture. The people who are talked about are the ones who put in an all-nighter to get a customer’s system back so they can work the next day. They are brilliant, pulling off feats of endurance, persistence and skill that others only dream of.
If you run a break-fix IT service business, they are great. When it’s broken, they fix it. Things keep breaking, your heroes will keep rescuing you and your customers. Everyone’s happy.
Except when you are providing an always-on service. Things breaking is not so good then. In fact, the whole point about providing a service is to stop them breaking by anticipating what can go wrong and taking steps to prevent. You don’t need heroes. You need people who think ahead and put safety systems in place. You need ‘fire-watchers’ not ‘fire-fighters’. Different skills, different mind-set.
That’s why, to use the analogy of a previous blog, aircraft companies start by hiring designers, not crash investigators.