Monday, February 27, 2006

First Break All the Rules part 1

I’m continuing to read First, Break All the Rules. Last time I mentioned that there are 12 questions and I listed 3 of them. Well, I should have kept reading, because the next section says that the questions are in that order for a reason. They liken the task of managing to an expedition to climb a mountain. You need certain foundations before you can get out of base camp, and each successive camp has its requirements. Just as you can’t helicopter into camp 3 and expect to take the peak, so you can’t choose which of the questions are more important. They build on one another, sort of like trying to start geometry half way through the year. You won’t know the proofs that allow you to state certain truths.

All this to say that the “base camp” questions are the first two:
1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?

If as an employee, I don’t know the answers to these two questions, I will not be able to perform well. I will always be wondering whether or not I’m doing a good job or I will be struggling to find the tools I need to do it right.

“Camp 1” has asks 4 questions, all related to your individual contribution to the company:
3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best everyday?
4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?

These six of the 12 questions have to be answered before there can be any hope of better than mediocre performance. Without these six, there can be no “learning organization” and no “quality company.” No wonder all the innovations and re-organizations fall flat! We are trying to start halfway up the mountain without allowing people to get acclimatized.

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