Frank worked in an office and took great pride in how efficiently he ran his department.
The office had a flat roof and one day during some heavy rain, an employee named Joe, pointed out that the roof was leaking and water was dripping into the office.
Being an efficient manager, Frank immediately went and found a metal wastepaper basket and placed it under the drips. Sorted!
About an hour later, Joe came and told Frank that the bucket was nearly full. Frank found another, placed that under the drip, emptied the first and placed it alongside ready to be filled again. Now a simple system was in place.
Frank felt very pleased with his efficiency. ‘But wait,’ he thought. ‘Why, as a manager, do I not delegate the bucket emptying to Joe? This will surely be a case of job enrichment, added responsibility and employee development?’ During the next storm, he coached Joe in the process and skills required and handed over the responsibility to him. Genius!
Frank, of course, monitored Joe’s performance on a regular basis. Alas, as often happens in these situations, Joe soon left the organisation. However, Frank saw this as a golden opportunity. Why not include responsibility for bucket emptying in the job description? So when Martha started work in Joe’s old job, she took on the additional responsibility, with some training of course.
This was now seen as the height of efficient management. Only one last possibility remained to be explored – and yes, there was a device available that could be placed on the roof of the office to tell the computer that it was raining. The computer would then send a message to Martha’s desk, reminding her to empty the bucket. Perfect!
Now Frank had a fool-proof process ensuring the drip was dealt with. He was, of course, promoted for demonstrating such efficiency. His replacement is currently working with the team on the design of an automated bucket emptying device.
Meanwhile, Mabel, who cleans the office, keeps asking: ‘Why doesn’t someone mend the blasted roof!’
(This is a great story from Leadership: The Multiplier Effect by Andy Cope, Mike Martin and Jonathan Peach published by Hodder and Stoughton (2018). I thoroughly recommend it as a great read. It’s a leadership book for people who need to bridge the chasm between theory and the real world. It’s fascinating and funny and will show you how to multiply the positive impact of your leadership by being inspired.)
Back to the story about Frank and his efficient office.
The question to reflect upon is this: are you creating an efficient operation with buckets? Maybe you need to repair the roof instead?
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