What was I thinking?

What were you thinking?  Ever have this go through your head as you are listening to the latest round of status reports painting the rosiest picture possible, half of which will end in disaster.  Why are you only checking in once a month?  These are major projects, why are you not talking with the project manager at least every couple of weeks?  Not through a status report but actually talking about the challenges, the things going right, and looking for the gems of what your company is really like underneath.  How do we know we are communicating that these projects are important, and that we are working to expand our presence in the market.  Most employee’s do not know that if you do not make money, they do not have paychecks.  Sounds silly, but if you were to ask your employee’s how the company makes money, most could not answer the question.  Ask them where their paycheck comes from and most will answer payroll or HR.  Really?



No wonder executives find it difficult to make changes within an organization.  I have heard the argument that “they don’t need to understand”.  If that is true then why not just replace them when you want to change something.  You change/replace your tires every 60-80 thousand miles.  Why not do that with your staff?  Your tires don’t need to know where you are going or why they are there, so does your staff?  For some things you could just replace the staff and it would be easier when you are changing business processes.  However, the retraining and costs to hire new staff makes those some very expensive tires.  Now if our staff knows where we are going and why they could act as intelligent navigational systems giving warnings when we deviate and fall asleep at the wheel.  They could actually help us steer and avoid accidents along the way.  In other words that smart tire could really prove to be a helpful investment along the way.

If we depend upon feedback and information to monitor and execute programs, how are we going to get good feedback if the very people we are looking to run our business do not know what the business does?  Let’s face it, there are a enough things working against us, normal mistakes, changes in the economy, people resistant to change undermining the activities both passively and actively.  It is amazing that anything gets done at all.  Not only that we finish the project and then wonder why this change hasn’t happened yet.  You know the box “miracle happens here”, usually found right before cutover.  There is no miracle.  Just a lot of hard work, a lot of faith and much blood, sweat and tears.  It is the fact that it takes the executive team explaining, and then the tough part listening to the feedback.

Why don’t we do things like that?  How much time do you have in a day?  How did most of our C level officers get to be C-level officers?  Was it by being task oriented, hard driving results oriented individuals?  Of course that is why they are there.  Results.  Are they the right long term results?  Are we really achieving what the company was setup to achieve?  Are we evolving to solve new problems?  Really which ones and are they what we want to represent?  While science is a wonderful “who, what, when, where, and how” answer machine, we as both individuals and as companies often forget to answer the really important questions like “why are we doing this” or “is this really the right direction?”.  These “warm fuzzy” questions are often swept aside because we wouldn’t be considering this if we didn’t think these projects are important right?  Failure is not the end, but the beginning of something new if done properly.  Sometimes what we think is a good idea becomes a really bad one under the light of day.  If you have one of these pull the plug.  Sometimes it is better to pull the plug early, retrench, rethink and then redo rather than to try and pull it out.  In the future I will talk about pulling something from the brink of disaster.  Don’t be afraid to fail, but make sure you learn from it otherwise it will keep coming back to haunt you.

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