Sunday, April 16, 2017

Thought for the Day - We Do a Lot of Unnecessary Stuff

It struck me yesterday while chatting with a young corporate start up team, that in our insecurity, we actually end up doing a lot of unnecessary stuff, instead of doing what we need to do. I suppose that happens in all spaces where there is no honesty and there are somethings said and something else done.

For example, the young team was busy doing a lot of activities that were merely being done to prove to the boss that they were working. The effort was wasted because the metrics there did not add any real value. When asked to come up with a way to increase value, the team came up with two simple and brilliant solutions that could potentially increase volume by 4-5 times, if not more.(So far, at 2,5 x).

We must be doing so many unnecessary things in our lives in an effort to keep the peace or to keep the boss or the other person happy. One wonders how much efficiency is lost thanks to one insecure boss or person who cannot let the team take their call and allow them to go ahead. If in a team of 12, all 12 have to listen and follow the one idea that the boss gives, then we are wasting all the 12 resources at our disposal. How about asking all 12 to give their suggestion to arrive at the outcome? But few bosses or people can give up control. Their identity is based on their ability to control. Even if they fail, they will not give up control. In fact, they fail because they cannot give up control.

When we threw the question at the group of 12 to come up with an idea each, one of the star performers came up with one idea that would straightaway increase volumes. The suggestion was greeted with a ton of cynicism by the boss who pointed out that this is what they should have been doing all along, and how they should also justify how it will help with the required numbers etc. It was a full tirade of 10 minutes and the poor guy who gave the suggestion did not know where to look. Now if I was the next guy I would not give an idea even if I had one if this was the reaction I was going to get. Fine, the boss has a point if the team was to perform this task; but then what was the boss doing instead of getting the team to do their job all these days?

Anyway, as expected we did not get many suggestions after that. This one idea was opened up some and everyone decided to work on that angle. But the whole experience left me wondering how in an atmosphere like this, the team would only do enough not to get shouted at and keep their ideas to themselves. Who's listening anyway?

So we have a fearful and stressed out team that is at the receiving end from an insecure boss. It is no way to increase productivity. Like they saw great work comes when people feel good. The boss should find ways to make the team feel good. Like appreciating good ideas, the good they have done, encouraging them to speak etc.

It's an amazing amount of unnecessary work that happens in our lives. Perhaps if we are aware we could do less, and achieve more. Perhaps if we let go our belief that only we are right, we could be happy and productive.

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