Dan red face shines exactly like a red light, so I stopped, smiled at him and asked him “are you ok?” the 6.5 foot of mussel didn’t seem to impact by my smile. “This system sucks, simply sucks!” he barked at me with his red face.
“What happened?” I asked with the most concern voice that I could find. “I suppose to run a group that is responsible for marketing, I’m responsible for marketing, I have those three num-nuts that suppose to be my team, but they are worthless, really worthless. Everyone knows that.” he shoots at me as his face become redder. Ok, I replied. But why the system sucks? I asked.
“Oh, it sucks, believe me. It completely sucks.” Replay Dan in the most unfriendly behavior that I saw so far. His face muscles were stiff, his lips quizzed, his eyes radiate an evil message and I could swear that his hair stood up like a dog that communicates I’m here stay away from me. “It doesn’t make any sense that I can’t tell them how they should do their work” Dan kept on barking. “In all the companies that I worked for, I could tell people what they need to do and how they should do it; but here I can just tell them what they need to do. Now I depend on others, I depend on their willingness to do the work in the best way they think it should be done. This sucks!”
Dan was definitely upset, and the only way to get into a conductive discussion was to cool him down. “Cup of good coffee?” I asked with a smile. “Why not” Dan barked and shrugged his shoulders. We walked to my cube, and I immediately started to fix two cups of Americano. I kept the silence, giving Dan the time to cool down until we two took our first zip.
“I understand your frustration” I started the conversation. help me to understand how telling people how to do their job help you? “They won’t screw the task” Replay Dan with a smile. “It gives me the ability to make sure that tasks are being done the way they need to and as a result, customers are much happier.” “Agree”, I replied. “Have you ever thought about how our commute will look like if Mr. Ford will follow instruction on how to deal with horses instead of thinking about cars?” I asked.
Got your point, Dan replied. But I still don’t understand why I can’t tell them how to do their Job, Dan asked as he is zipping his coffee. “You served in the armed forces, isn’t it?” I asked Dan. Yes, he relayed. So let me ask you a question. Two platoons from two different adversary armies are preparing for a battle that is going to start the day after. One platoon is organized in strict command and control. There is a clear hierarchy and orders what to do are coming from the top of the hierarchy. The other platoon organized and trained to act as one team. Everyone understands what the goals of the battle are and each member of the platoon is prepared to do whatever needed based on the current situation to reach the goal. Which platoon do you prefer to be part of?
The second replied Dan, “No doubt” he added. I kept silence until dan continues. Got you, you tricked me again. The second platoon won’t reach their operation model without giving people the opportunity to decide how they are doing their tasks and let them learn from their and other people mistakes. I noted with my head and kept my silence as I knew there is more to come.
It took dan one minute to collect his thoughts, and then he asked “but what about people that continuously are doing their task the wrong way? If I tell them what to do, I will reduce the risk for the entire team, isn’t it? “The question is, do you need people that you have to tell them how to do their work?” I replied.
Dan smiled back with his warm and happy smile. “I guess you are right, but how our system enables me to replace people that can’t make their own right decision on how to do their tasks?”. “How?” I replied back. I guess you know the system. It didn’t take Dan a lot of time to replay. We have the metrics, Customer and peers feedbacks, the evolvement of the group and other control and balances in our system that can push people that are not a fit to the system out.
“Yes”, I replied. I know that our system might be slower than the command and control one and I knew it is frustrating, especially for newcomers. The frustration though is a by-product of your interaction with people, and this frustration will happen regardless of the system. The system can create a culture and environment that build more independent people that you can trust. The problem is that this building process is coming with another level of frustration, especially before you manage to see and experience the healthy fruits of this system.
“I guess you are right” replied Dan. He was back to his friendly Dan mode. Thank you for spending time with me and thank you for the coffee. It was beneficial he said and started to do his way to his next meeting. I watched Dan as he walked away. I felt my smile vanished from my face as I knew that was just the start of a long journey for both of us.