No problem, just fire Bob and buy a tool!

If only the resolution to any problem was as easy as this simple knee-jerk reaction.

Do we know the reason that Bob is underperforming? Could it be that we ourselves have set Bob up to fail by giving Bob a bad process to follow, or a weak link in Bob’s supply chain?

And what of this magic tool? While it might be clear that we could benefit from the output that such a tool might provide, will we get that output from this tool in this environment used in this way?

When faced with a problem, the knee jerk reaction used by many is to solve it by treating the symptom and jumping to solutions.

Working on the assembly line, Bob trips and bumps into a car, causing a dent or scratch. Bob has done this more than once, so the natural conclusion is that our fictitious Bob is a clumsy oaf who is not careful enough. Bob gets replaced without first considering the cause of Bob’s apparent clumsiness. Did we check to see if Bob has a habit of going out for a liquid lunch and returning to work inebriated, and what about that loose cable that lays about the floor haphazardly? Then there is the assembly line process set up in such a way that Bob has to remember to duck each time a part moves along the conveyor system. No, the problem is Bob. He is the one denting cars, so he needs to be removed.

In another instance we have an organization that has implemented a change management system for assessing risks before approving a change within the environment. Any functional group that wants to make a change has to submit their plans for approval, so that other functional groups are aware that the change is coming and can asses its impact on their area. Some groups are not following the process, but the solution is obvious. We must need a software tool that we can all use to enter change requests for all to see.

That certainly will solve the problem….or will it? Never mind those who are supposed to be seeking approval for their changes that view the requirement to seek approval as an unnecessary waste of time. Too much red tape to bother with. Then there are the people reviewing the changes for approval who see themselves as enforcers rather than trusted advisors, able to so no, and unwilling to say yes.

So, while my colleagues may advise buying new tools, and avoiding the hiring of a person named Bob, Robert, William or Bill, when I am asked what to do about the situation I will lead with my typical consultant answer – refined by me over many years of working with Bob’s and Tom’s and Sally’s – "It depends. Lets begin by looking at the process."

© Wayne McKinnon, 2011

About Wayne McKinnon

Wayne McKinnon works with organizations to change their course of evolutions from extinct to distinct
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