Working Smarter vs. Working Harder LO30218

From: Greg Haworth (
Date: 05/28/03

Responding to Jeff Miller in LO30161 --

Born in the understandable and shared frustration of, I can see what's
happening, but I'm struggling to successfully communicate this to the
"overseers" just how counter-productive this approach is.

You come with a simple request, I'm in need of a good article, and you
have received some leads.

But you open a wider door with this question, So, I welcome in advance any
suggestions or leads you can send my way. Hence, you have received some
information, some very good information by the way, very different in
nature than just a couple of links.

In my thinking many questions remain to be evaluated prior to any
intervention in this matter.

1. What is your position in this affair? Are you one of the overseers,
their "boss"? This has to do with power .. see next points.

2. Why are the "overseers" doing this? Because they have to (as in
profitability is at risk if more resources are employed), or because they
can (as has been suggested in previous response LO30172), or some other
reason? As long as the reason is not one of profitability, my take is
very simple -- they are doing it because they are rewarded (or are
avoiding a negative consequence) by doing so. If you are not in a
position to mete out the rewards I doubt you can change their behavior.
But perhaps, depending on ..

3. What is the organizational routine around problem solving and decision
making .. I assume the directive to drive folks harder is an attempt to
solve a perceived problem? Is it (from Systems Thinker V6#7):
I decide and never mind why. Or
I need this input but the decsion is mine. Or
We will collaborative come to a decision. Or
This decision is yours, go make it, and let me know what you have decided.

What is "expected" of the overseers? Is it expected that they re-engineer
the work (work smarter)? Or that they whip the eyes of the fallen horse?

It is hard to craft a strategy without knowing how the organization
operates. What leads you to believe one good metaphor will have an
impact? This is a very odd notion to me and contrary to my limited
experience with organizations. I have been in the quality profession for
over 15 years, but in only two organizations. In all cases, my attempts
to "enlighten" the management staff, of which I have been a senior member,
have all crashed in the face of the "cultural imperative" of the

On this last point I would like to extend my thinking a bit. It has been
my experience that individuals genuinely value and embrace the skill sets
available under the LO umbrella of tools. Most find the journey richly
rewarding .. personally.

However, in the field, under stress, in the real world of work-a-day life
... Well, let us say that "survival mode" kicks in, and the behaviors, do
not change .. the cultural imperative and the inertia of behavioral
response loops to stress proves stronger than newly acquired skills.
And, stronger than reason.

Perhaps my use of the term skills imply ability or deep knowledge ..
second loop learning. That is not my intent. In fact, it is my point ---
individual responses/behaviors will stay stuck in primary, known, expected
AND rewarded response modes until the organization grows past this, and
create AND reward new stimulus/response behavioral templates. This is
what is required, regardless of the individuals enthusiastic embracing of
any LO tool set. These tools will forever be relegated to the realm of
interesting mental exercise. Unless your attempt to impact the overseers
fits inside the cultural imperative's allowable responses, your challenge
is much larger than what can be achieved by having them read an article.
No matter how strong your case, reasonable your idea is, or how good the
article. I don't believe it even matters if THEY think it is a good idea.

So the exploration continues .. how to effectively create a true LO.
And, unfortunately I do not think a snappy metaphor cuts the mustard.
Were that it were so...

Greg Haworth


Greg Haworth <>

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