Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Worst Practices

A few weeks back I blogged about workforce commodity. I work in Human Resources ~ possibly the most restricted department in any company. If we seek change it does not look like thought leadership. Even change needs to look like a commodity:

Step 1: Develop a Committee
Step 2: Author an RFP
Step 3: Collect bids from 'defensible' potential vendors
Step 4: Select a 'safe' partner
Step 5: Write a policy
Step 6: Train
Step 7: (finally) Implement a 'new' program

...after we've navigated this 7 step process, the cutting edge program has become dated. When our employees actually touch the program it is watered down. No one is willing to make a choice without 8 other people to defend the choice. Hours and hours are dedicated to meetings about meetings, calls about calls, and pseudo on-the-job training (to give the less experienced another hole in the punch card). We call this developing people....it is really systematic dulling down. Compartmentalization. Checks and balances. Safe, uninventive, predictable. In an interview we ask what you did at company X that can benefit company Y. When 'vendors' come in to present their solution we ask what other companies in our industry are doing....

It's a copy cat culture replicated to look the same everywhere with a different logo....and we call them Best Practices.

What happened?

How did we go from a creative culture to a cog burning factory of predictability?

When I was a young up-start I couldn't wait to get to work...to learn, to evolve, to have an opportunity to share ideas, to develop my path for development. I figured that if I worked my ass off I would be rewarded. I thought that if I introduced new ideas I would help the company evolve. I thought I worked for a company that welcomed employee feedback as a means to more fully form our organizational strategy.

Boy, Was I Wrong!

In actuality, I was pee pee whacked for sharing new ideas (aka rocking the boat). If I challenged authority in a meeting I was cast off as 'negative'. The people I looked up to as leaders were professional anglers. The company did not want to evolve...we wanted to stay simple, programmable, systematic.

The way to 'climb the ladder' was to accept every directive and pass along the idea to others. There was no originality, nothing innovative! So, you take young talent, have them report to those who pretend to be leaders, and destroy their motivation. It is massively unfortunate but it works most of the time. The idealists are driven to become lemmings because their thought leadership is admonished instead of celebrated.

I remember my first day of High School football camp. I went into the weight room and immediately went to work. I hit every machine...an elder statesman came up to me and said, "slow down dude, it's a marathon not a sprint". Just then, I knew I was going to be massively successful as a member of that school. If the most respected member of the team was telling me to "slow down", I was going to lap him twice.

Some of us are blessed with talent, others try really hard to measure up ~ both have the opportunity to sell out. The little guy can do steroids, the big guy can set a standard of under-performance....that's what we have become, a tribe of followers: "tell me what to do and I'll do it". It's easier to sit on the side lines with arms folded than to get in the game.

Your unique thought is all you have. If you allow 'them' to take that from you, you become one of 'them'!

Don't Forget to Remember!


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