“They’re rioting in Africa, they’re starving in Spain.

There’s hurricanes in Florida, and Texas needs rain.
The whole world is festering with unhappy souls.
…And I don’t like anybody very much! ”
There’s August ugly in the Congress and citizens, media and bloggers, students and teachers and facebook, police and crims, workers and management, you name it.
When you get that many groups affected, it’s not them, it’s some kind of social paradigm shift.
What I see is we are all, for better or worse, dealing with new levels of technology, some of it really poorly designed, which can make it harder to do a good job than before we were burdened with all that helpful technology.
Defensive behavior is to huddle down, poking at the busted process, spending long hours on rework and wrong results.
I was recruited to revitalize an important program that affects the public and private sector, and draws support from government, commercial, academic, and not-for-profit sectors. I was recruited because I think it’s important.
The program was being throttled by mindless, useless, creeping administrivia.
I slashed the reporting, the waiting, and the disappointment, while increasing the immediate benefit for customers, participants, and sponsors. Biggest complaint now is it doesn’t look the same.
As part of the program, I went to a secure installation watching an unending progress prevention protocol, which was getting everyone involved testy. I measured something close to 300% rework from the original plan, zero benefit.
On the way home I stopped at Costco to get some printer ink refilled. The gate guard looked like the people at the other gate. She was operating screens, scanners, and manual apparatus and charged with keeping the riffraff out. I’m sure her systems didn’t work any better than other systems.
But she had one other responsibility I hadn’t seen anywhere else that day.
As I walked through, she said enthusiastically, “Welcome to Costco!” and flashed a pretty good smile. I smiled back, so she smiled more, so I smiled more…and suddenly this was a different, better experience.
It’s not worshiping and worrying the busted process, it is paying attention to the people that gets the results we want. Or as that Kingston Trio litany to unhappiness finishes:
“What nature doesn’t do to us, will be done by our fellow man.”
Ah, wisdom of the ancients!
Your Observations Invited
Sales Lab’s Rainmaker series returns to the Capital Technology Management Hub, Thursday, September 17th with 300 seconds of Mark Your Territory. The featured CTMH speaker will be Professor Steve Gladis, author of The Agile Leader.

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