Commentary

“I Intend To”

Bureaucracy is a bitch.

What few people realize is that as an upper level exec, in a lot of too many organizations, there’s virtually no natural incentive to approve… well, anything. If you don’t approve requests or initiatives, what can go wrong? You don’t get some (rare) praise for accomplishing something – big deal. But if you approve something and it goes wrong??

As a young Community Manager, if I had a broken hot tub that needed a $1.6k repair and it was over my $500 spending limit, I’d need express written approval.  No biggie, right? I’ll just email my boss and get an answer.

After multiple follow ups, weeks later, there’s no answer beyond the yawning chasm of silence. Why wouldn’t they just tell me ‘no’ if that’s what they wanted? Because not answering the question meant they were the safest they could be.

See, there’s risk in saying yes to things. What if someone comes along later and says you screwed up by approving that thing which could have been done cheaper, better, differently, etc…? What if I get yelled at? What if… something something bad feeling?

I wasn’t alone. A LOT of my cohorts’ bosses did the same thing. Ignore, brush off, delay, deflect, slow roll, forget – anything to not have to take a stand on something that should be easy because the fear was always at their neck that they’d get ripped for it. They wanted express permission from the owner before they’d be ok saying yes. What point was there for their existence then? We could just get the permission from the owner if that’s all it was.

When the issue finally reached crisis level, the owner had the foresight to implement the system that Simon mentions at the 33 minute mark in this video: “I Intend To.”

The way it worked was, if we needed to do something and couldn’t get an answer, we’d fire off an email with “IIT:” in the subject line. If we weren’t told NO within 48 hours, we were free to do it. It changed the onus from getting approval to bosses having to say NO if they felt something shouldn’t be done.

As you can imagine, things improved immediately. Bosses who didn’t have good reasons to say no, besides their personal fear, could tacitly approve something without lifting a finger. Oh happy day!

And don’t get me wrong – I don’t mean to say there shouldn’t be checks and balances and proper vetting of capital requests. By all means, I’d include how many bids I’d received, what the nature of the issue was, what the repair proposed was, why that was a rational way to proceed and what the timeline would be. I’d proactively try to answer every question I could get to make sure it was in line with our company’s values and goals.

Bottom line or TL;DR: There’s all kinds of benefit in empowering your people as opposed to teaching them to subsist on compliance. Your people aren’t the problem, your environment, your culture are the problem.

Eliminate bureaucracy, breed commitment by increasing your team’s involvement.

 

There’s a Way to Stop Mass Shootings, and You Won’t Like It.

There’s a Way to Stop Mass Shootings, and You Won’t Like It.

isolation

That’s right. You’re not going to like it because it’s going to require you to do something personally, as opposed to shouting for the government, or anyone to “do something!”

You ready? Here it is:

“Notice those around you who seem isolated, and engage them.”

If every one of us did this we’d have a culture that was deeply committed to ensuring no one was left lonely. And make no mistake, as I’ve written before loneliness is what causes these shooters to lash out. People with solid connections to other people don’t indiscriminately fire guns at strangers.

I know what you’re thinking. That’s never going to work because no one is going to make the effort to connect with the strange kid sitting by himself at lunch each day. No one is going to reach out to the gawky, awkward guy at work and ask him about his weekend.

You’re probably right and that’s an absolute shame.

Because I can tell you the things that aren’t going to work in this country when it comes to stopping these heinous acts. But they seem to be all anyone says, when inevitably, another person comes forward to inflict their tortured pain on innocent people.View Post

  1. Ban All Guns! – Due to the reading of the 2nd amendment and the precedents established by recent Supreme Court cases, this isn’t going anywhere. You’d need an amendment to the Constitution and there will NEVER be 30+ states willing to overturn it. Never mind the multitude of good reasons for its existence, no amount of outrage will overturn it so let’s just stop.
  2. Ban All Guns! (pt. 2) – Assuming you actually could overturn the 2nd and outlaw every firearm in the country, then you’d have to go out and get them. Famously, there are more guns than people in the U.S. You couldn’t come close to collecting them all. Further, if Prohibition and the War on Drugs have taught us anything it’s that those intent on breaking the law are going to do just that. Laws be damned.
  3. Ban Scary Guns Like the AR-15! – Fully auto weapons are already banned*. Most of these shootings occur with a handgun, plain and simple, and these aren’t going anywhere. Murder is illegal, and that doesn’t seem to stop these individuals from performing these atrocious acts. Do you think if there was a ban on shotguns that would stop them?
  4. Keep Them Out of the Hands of Bad People! – Felons are prohibited from owing a firearm already. But let’s not forget, the overwhelming majority of these mass shootings aren’t done by criminals and their guns were obtained legally. How can you know who is going to do something like this? You can’t.
  5. Do Something About Mental Health! – Cool. Yeah. So, like, free psychologists visits for everyone? Even if you could, the people that have done this haven’t been mentally ill, by and large. And, let’s not forget that medical records are private. Would you endorse mandatory psych screening for everyone and those records being sent to the government? Maybe just those who wish to own a gun? Remember, not every person who has engaged in a mass shooting has owned the gun they performed the act with. This is a complete non-starter of an issue with an insane price tag that does nothing to actually keep a person committed to violence from putting their hands on a gun.
  6. Do… SOMETHING! – Gotcha. What do you want to do? “SOMETHING!” Ok, what do you have in mind? “I DON’T KNOW! BUT SOMEONE NEEDS TO DO SOMETHING!” Sure. Agreed. But what? Even Obama has had to say in his latest speech how routine it’s become.

If you can’t tell by this point in the list, there is NOTHING the government or any other organization can do to prevent these events.

You can’t effectively keep drugs out of the hands of those intent on doing drugs. You can’t keep beer out of the hands of high schoolers intent on getting beer. You have a HUGE supply of weapons everywhere and concrete federal law protecting those weapons. You’d have as much luck passing regulation against tornadoes. It would be equally as effective.

So there it is. The god’s honest truth. No entity can do anything meaningful (more than is presently being done) to thwart a disaffected person hell-bent on committing such an act.

But you can.

You can talk to your co-worker for a few minutes. You can talk to the kid in your Physics class that appears to be all alone. You can teach your children to do the same, to make sure no one is left to feel totally isolated. Because that’s the breeding ground. That’s where the seeds are planted.

rosalind-wiseman-quote-social-isolation-is-one-of-the-most-devastating

Community is easy to take for granted. Most of us have strong family connections and healthy friendships. Most feel as though they’re part of a group, be it community, religious, or work related. But it’s increasingly easy for people on the edges to withdraw and it’s easy for us to forget them.

No, it’s comfortable to forget them. It’s preferred to forget them. It’s highly desired to forget them. And we have to change that.

Holding a sign isn’t going to do anything. And writing your congressman will do even less. But you can do something today, this week, this month. The people you engage may not become life-long friends, and they don’t need to be, but it could be enough to keep someone away from the darkness and isolation needed to eventually think lashing out is an effective strategy for dealing with their pain.

If you’re conflicted at all about the subject, I can’t encourage you enough to read this post by Sam Harris on the subject immediately following Newtown, CT, that I’ve written about before.

* Edit: Fully auto weapons are legal, but only under the strictest of conditions and at a price that makes them nigh affordable for the vast majority. For all intents and purposes, let’s just call them banned. The AR-15 is not a fully auto weapon, but is confused for one based on appearance.