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The blunt ax – the ideal metaphor for a deficiency

Deficiencies arise from errors, wear and tear, accidents, or environmental changes. As a result, things and processes only function inadequately. A practical example is an ax that becomes blunt over time or was not sharpened from the beginning. There are still people who do not know the story of the ax.

On a sunny morning, a woman walks with her husband through the nearby forest. After a few minutes, the two meet a group of lumberjacks, who are having breakfast. The woodcutters work already for two hours and have felled ten trees. They should be finished until noon. After an hour, they encounter another group of loggers, who are intensively swinging their axes. But only two trees are lying on the grounds. With the expert’s eyes, they notice that the lumberjacks probably just began. One of the loggers, however, grumpily answers that they are working for hours. When the couple surprisingly asks why they only cut a few trees, another woodworker stops his hacking and grumbles that their axes are too blunt. To the question, why they did not sharpen the axes, he shrugs with his shoulders:
“Since we anyway need more time, we have no time to sharpen the axes. “

Axes should only be sharpened now and then to serve their purpose reliably.

It is worth considering how to get the most out of the functionality you want.

  • Ignoring
    If you consider the story for a moment, the lumberjacks’ approach appears to be ignorant. Sharpening the axes would only take a fraction of the time that has to be spent to continue to chop with the blunt ax.
  • Sharpening
    The solution to sharpen the axes is understandable for everybody, even if it is an interruption of work for sharpening and/or preparing the axes in the morning.
  • Sharpen internally
    The lumberjacks should not grind by themselves. The attentive boss should know the difference between a sharp and a blunt ax. Supplying a specialist for sharpening would quickly become economical for him.
  • Sharpen externally
    Since many people consider only working for personnel as productive, they develop resistance against internal specialists, who, from their point of view, are only participating indirectly in the success. This style of leader optimizes the grinding by letting doing it by external people only from time to time, as late as possible.
  • Buying a new ax
    Than there are the decision-makers, who are already saving money in the beginning. They buy cheap equipment, and as soon as it is no longer usable, they buy a new one. In the end, this approach reduces the performance from the beginning and endangers security additionally through inferior tools. Or does someone believe that a cheap ax remains sharp longer than one day?
  • Chain saws
    Technology-savvy people shake their heads. Who is still felling trees with an ax today? Chain saws in all sizes and modern vehicles that saw trees and lops of the branches in one step offer productive alternatives – until they become blunt.
  • Outsourcing
    And anyway. Who chops at all? We more likely concentrate today on the core process and leave the work to others. An increase in production is made by purchasing, who pressure on prices. In the end, unqualified people with blunt axes in front of trees and drum against them until a tree is so kind to fall.

Bottom line: As long as the paper, furniture, construction, and transport industries need trees as raw material, sharp axes are required. And as long as businesses need tools, designs, procedures, and services to work, all kinds of impairments should be ameliorated as well as the blunt edge of the ax. That makes it the ideal metaphor for a deficiency.

The kick in the so-called – the ideal metaphor for a disturbance

The outcome of decades of standardization is bureaucracy in all areas. This is manifested in regulations that are supposed to prevent the misconduct of a vanishing minority. However, all employees and decision-makers are affected and are thus deprived of any scope for action. The result is an even distribution of inactivity within the area. This organizational rigidity is only prevented by disturbances – such as a kick in the so-called.

Preposterously, those responsible avert/-void disruptions like the devil the holy water. In doing so, they overlook that they thereby create an equilibrium of immovableness by punishing the one who moves first. The only way to escape this vicious circle is to stir up the action, for example, through disruptions.

  • It takes more than one
    People are driven by their motives. The result is several, often different interests in one group. The whole expands thereby its possibilities – as long as the individual interests are not held back. This is an important reason to always include several people in the team, even if one nevertheless takes the lead – responsibility is not sharable according to the Highlander principle.
  • Ensure diversity
    The more diverse the participants, the more varying are the suggestions. Exclusion no longer offers those die-hards the self-protection that like-minded people provided. On the contrary, it is business suicide to strive for homogeneity of opinions because mutual backslapping increases entropy. Other views are not seen, and the opportunities for diversity are not exploited, leading to homemade failure. Ensure your employees cover diverse genders, ages, worldviews, and operational functions, and take advantage of diverse perspectives.
  • Appreciate surprises
    In the past, one of the worst misconducts was not having avoided surprises. The extent to which an unexpected circumstance was foreseeable or not, did not matter. You were accused of covering up bad news, of not having confidence, or at least of not enough covering up your bets to be able to report changes early on. For you, it is critical to build an open-minded error culture that forgives mistakes and perceives them as learning opportunities and build the skills to see trouble coming – e.g., through proactive stakeholder management.
  • Rethink feedback
    Avoiding the exchange of ideas, sketches, concepts, and results is natural self-protection to safeguard oneself from criticism. This stumbling block is a crazy mindset that assumes that others are opponents, complaints are meant to harm you, and that your fulfillment of tasks will be disrupted as a result. You should do everything to be able to use these opportunities easier. Values and rules help thereby for exchanging good feedback. Feedback from others should be clear, factual, non-judgmental, exchanged promptly and privately without toxic feedback on feedback.
  • Disorder is the intermediate goal
    Remember, the goal is to maintain creative chaos that prevents participants from sinking into inertia. The ultimate results should be as free of clutter as possible and deliver customers the output that they paid for – not excessively more, certainly not less. The intermediate goal is a work product that serves to ameliorate. As a leader, you are the deciding factor. On the one hand, you must ensure fruitful disorder by assuming the role of Advocatus Diaboli, if necessary, to disrupt fatigue among those involved. Above all, you must endure the created disorder and resist the impulse of a micromanager to interfere in the employee’s activities.

Bottom line: Contrary to the preconception that disorder is a bad thing, leaders should learn to harness the power of other, sometimes contradictory, opinions. Power seekers suppress any engagement from people who think differently than they do. This no longer fits into an age in which everything is in rapid motion. It is better to uncover and react to counterarguments within the team than to be accused for them later when everything is already moving in the wrong direction. For this reason, it always takes more than one to solve tasks. Work teams should be as diverse as possible in every respect, as this allows different views and weaknesses to be grasped more quickly. If surprises still happen, then this is the earliest time to locate difficulty and take countermeasures. To exchange opinions smoothly, an open feedback culture is needed. The many intermediate results become mature for discourse through the above measures. Eventually, the customer deliverable should be shaped at best and backed by all. A disturbance shakes up the lethargy of a harmony-cluttered workgroup like a kick in the so-called. This makes it the ideal metaphor for a disturbance.