It’s not the people; it’s the system.
Or, it’s the complete lack of a system. Take your pick.
What if every time you decided to drive to work you had to figure out how to do it? No, I don’t mean choosing the best route, I mean figuring out HOW to get to work.
Let’s say you get in your car, and start your trip by choosing which side of the road you want to drive on. Heck, why choose? Just drive on whatever side of the road fits the moment! Then, forget about having any expectations from the other drivers on the road. They’re all doing the same thing!
While you’re figuring things out, use a blinker when your turning sometimes, and other times just for fun. Turn left across oncoming traffic because it suits YOUR needs and no one else’s. Just be aware that you are not the only one making these incredibly irrational decisions. Other people with other motives and vastly different skill sets are navigating the roads along with you!
And like you, they’re are ALL making it up as they go along.
Sounds crazy right???
When we choose not to create systems for the work we do in our organizations, we are setting ourselves up to experience our very own version of the same chaos.
You can’t work on the things that matter most, where your skills and experience make the biggest difference, instead, you have to spend time and energy on things that should have been systematized LONG ago.
You can’t trust that others are following the same rules of the road because there aren’t any. You have to ask questions that shouldn’t need asking to avoid unnecessary conflict and rework. You have to work twice as hard because anything goes!
And it’s exhausting!
But what if we had some rules of the road? What if we agreed that next time we worked on a project or performed a routine task, we wrote out the process? What if we did so without constricting people so that they can still bring their best to the table? And dare I ask, what if that process served as the starting point for continuous improvement?
Just like when you drive to work, the rules GUIDE us through our decision making. You can still use your skills and experience to choose how we do the work, as long as we agree to some rules that make it easier on everyone. We just have to choose to make those rules.
When we do that, everyone has a better chance of making it through the day unscathed.