Frustrated executives and managers are always asking these kinds of questions.
- Why were those projects never finished?
- Why aren’t these processes working right?
- Why are we still doing that?
Checking into the reasons, they hear the same things over and over again.
Excuses, excuses, excuses.
They are everywhere. They are abundant. And they are even true.
- “We’re just doing what you told us to do.”
- “Jim never got me that file.”
- “I emailed Susan, and she never got back to me.”
- I didn’t want to get in trouble.”
What are the results?
Stalled initiatives, incomplete projects, less-than-acceptable results. The situation is reaching epidemic proportions. Money is going down the drain. But few seem to notice. They are all innocently “doing their jobs.”
Ask any manager or executive for a valuable characteristic of employees they wished to be more evident in the workforce and you’ll hear the same thing.
- It’s not an issue of ability.
- It’s not an issue of compliance.
- It’s not an issue of capability.
The most important, valuable, and lacking trait among the members of most workforces is the trait of taking project ownership. We need people who will own their projects and will do whatever it takes to see them through to completion. No excuses.
Ahhhh. To be able to assign some initiative, knowing that it will be carried out to fruition, to full implementation. That is like currency. You can take it to the bank.
Yet project ownership is rare in most organizations, and it is costing them a fortune.
It’s really not too hard to see. Executives and professional managers lack the core truth, the leadership key which can cause people to finish more, implement fully, and eliminate most problems and excuses.
It’s simply this. 5 very rich words. Axiomatic, when you think about it.
People own what they create.
Let me say it again.
People own, support, even die defending that which they decide, and therefore, create.
That’s easy to understand, and it makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is that professional management actually follow practices which work in direct opposition. . . behaviors which create, support and sustain a culture of incompleteness and excuses.
Consider 4 management destructive management beliefs and practices.
- Management is responsible for all “important” decisions.
- Management sets all directions and determines all goals.
- Management sets all essential outcomes.
- Management defines the activity paths to completion.
Then, as kings ruling over loyal subjects, management sits back expecting full alignment, engagement, and implementation. They expect their teams to follow their instructions, and do what they are told.
Most Management Practices are Simply Outdated Technology
These are management practices rooted in ancient and outdated technology, as outdated as any other technology developed in post Civil-War America. When Fredrick Taylor developed “Scientific Management,” as the technology was called, he figured that people were mere machines, that productivity was measured in the volume of activities done, and that creativity and innovation were detrimental to enterprise success.
Well, everyone knows now that people are not machines, mere activities guarantee no productivity, and enterprises that do not create and innovate are on the fast-track to extinction.
So, managers that continue ascribe to “Taylorism” can only expect exactly what it was designed to produce. a busy, under-productive, compliant and controlled workforce, lacking the ability to create and innovate. We just get busier and busier, working harder and harder, never discovering value creating leverage in our operations. It’s not our workforces fault. They just do what they have to do to to keep their jobs.
Remember the TPS reports from the movie “Office Space?”
Careful thought shows that mechanical management processes work counter to human nature. It robs our workforce of most of its ability to meet their most rudimentary human needs.
Porsche takes a different approach.
Vistage Speaker and Former CEO of Porsche, Peter Schutz, learned a different practice, one that was instrumental in returning Porsche to productivity and profitability in the 1990s.
Schutz made 3 significant observations.
- Implementation is where all money is made.
- Implementation must be carried out without question, as in a dictatorship.
- People need input, and need to question. They will do this somewhere within their working roles.
Then, he noticed his company’s practices.
- Decisions were made by management, professionals trained at making good decisions.
- Employees were directed to implement based on management’s excellent decisions.
- Implementation was less-than-sufficient, as employees questioned the decisions in the only place they were involved.
Productivity suffered, as the decisions could never be implemented as management intended.
Peter changed the model to account for human nature. Realizing that questioning was a necessary and inherent condition, he suggested that making provision for questioning at the first level of decision would enable everyone to fully implement, which is what Porsche needed.
Schutz’s truth is this:
- A well made, quick decision, which is poorly implemented is of little value.
- A sufficiently-made, slow decision, perfectly implemented is of great value.
Schutz asked his managers to take a step back. He asked them to refrain from making all the important decisions. Then, he asked employees to make them. He asked them to come up with their own ideas and strategies for dealing with all kinds of business situations.
It wasn’t easy, as years of habitual practice had to be overcome. Also, Porsche was not a small employer. Their workforce numbered in the thousands. But as Peter Schutz reports in his talks, Porsche turned around as their workforce was realigned and reengaged.
What did Peter really do? He empowered people to meet their own human needs for learning, for fun, for freedom, for belonging, all while working. As a result, Porsche became a company with no excuses. They began to fully implement their projects.
And the company turned around. Porsche took their well implemented solutions to the bank.
Amazing what a little autonomy can do for workforce optimization.
Amazing what an optimized workforce can do for profitability.
Think about it. Then act.