We’ve all heard that phrase at one time or another but have you ever really thought about it in terms of your own life or career? I think there’s a time in all of our lives that this monumental observation might apply.
It’s interesting how you’ll hear a totally new phrase and then suddenly recognize the fact that it pops up again and again within a very short period of time. That recently happened to me soon after reading author John Gardner’s comment: “Most ailing organizations have developed a functional blindness to their own defects.”
The more I hear it, the more I realize how very true it is. We see it every day. It reminds me of another generational gem that really hits home. After reading it, don’t be too quick to judge it as being profound or too far out of the question to be true. Take a moment to examine your own environment in search of similar outrageous situations.
Following a poor first-half year performance, the board of a major manufacturing corporation demanded that a senior manager investigate what was happening on the factory floor, since the directors believed poor productivity was at the root of the problem.
While walking around the plant, the investigating manager came upon a large warehouse area where a man stood next to a pillar. The manager introduced himself as the person investigating performance on the factory floor, appointed by the board, and then asked the man by the pillar what he was doing. “It’s my job,” replied the man. “I was told to stand by this pillar.”
The investigator thanked the man for his cooperation and encouraged him to keep up the good work. The investigator next walked into a large packing area, where he saw another man standing next to a pillar. The investigator again introduced himself and asked the man what he was doing. “I’ve been told to stand by this pillar, so that’s what I do,” said the man.
Two weeks later the investigator completed his report and duly presented his findings to the board, who held a brief meeting to decide remedial action. The board called the investigator back into the room, thanked him for his work, and then instructed him to fire one of the men he’d found standing by pillars, since obviously this was a duplication of effort!