We come across lots of problems (challenges, opportunities, etc.) in our organizations. No matter what we call these issues, there are plenty of things that aren’t working properly and require fixing. Every day, it seems, something new happens. New fires start and need to be put out.
Of course, if you work inside any kind of organization, what I’m saying is absolutely no surprise to you. In all likelihood, most of your job is probably consumed with “fixing problems” of one variety or another.
The problem is that because our org structures are essentially holdovers from the industrial/factory days, they’re actually designed to de-incentivize you from solving those problems.
Think about it this way: when we had people pushing a button on an assembly line all day, it wasn’t advantageous for them or the company if they were thinking up creative solutions to make their work better. They weren’t able to see how “all the parts” fit together, so them trying to optimize things would probably cause more problems than it would solve.
But now, everyone needs to understand how the pieces fit together. If our customer-facing employees don’t understand the big picture, they can seriously damage the brand.
This also means that some of our “lowest” people (in the hierarchy) are most likely the best people to solve the aforementioned problems. But because we never updated our organizations to LET THEM SOLVE PROBLEMS, they face an enormous amount of red tape, bureaucracy, cultural bias, etc. if they even try.
It doesn’t take someone very many instances of “offering to help” and being met with a total shutdown before they stop trying altogether.
I’m sure you’ve seen this happen. Maybe you’ve even experienced it yourself.
This means that, whenever possible, the best solution to getting problems solved is just to give people the permission and space needed to solve them.
They already know how to fix it. Their biggest impediment is the organization itself. Chances are, your people already have the answers, but the design of the organization is fighting against them implementing the fix.
Help remove their obstacles. And if you’re in the way, get out.
P.S. Looking for more? Here’s a great article, with a great infographic on engagement.
Recapturing The Hires by Josh Allan Dykstra on July 25th, 2011
Death by Info v. Death by Ignorance (& Gummi Bears) by Josh Allan Dykstra on June 24th, 2010
Ben Stein On The Military by Josh Allan Dykstra on July 21st, 2008