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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Preventing Plateau

Change is good and necessary for the health of the organization. It is not healthy to have one person oversight of people, programs, or places for too long or stagnation will occur. Here’s the theory that I stumbled upon today:

Any one individual can only do so much. Even the most motivated and creative will work to a certain point (80% solution) before moving on to the next thing that vies for their attention. Once they have poured themselves into something, made it what they think it should be (often times “good enough”) they will let it lie and move onto the next challenge. Therefore, the object of their previous attention will be shelved, no longer evolving or improving, until reason is given for re-engagement.

I learned this during review of my departmental programs. All had been established and that’s all. The responsible Sailor brought them online administratively, thought they were fine, and then went on to other things. Not that they did anything wrong; they just did what they could/would do before other things popped up (life on a ship can be a lot like playing “wack-a-mole” at Chuck E. Cheese).

So, the solution to stagnation is change. Swap out program managers, give someone else an opportunity to show their capability. I assigned all new Petty Officers to my programs and told them to give me two ways they intend to make the program better. In 6 or so months I’ll do it again and induce programmatic evolution. Timing is important; you do not want to change while approaching assessment, but soon thereafter. Rotate leaders amongst work centers and divisions. Circulate new blood, cross-pollinate knowledge, develop people, places, and programs. The leader has to be the prime-mover of change for transformation to take place.

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