One Size Fits All aka Methodology Stupidity

One of the first signs that someone is caught up in their own world rather than trying to understand and fulfill a real need, is when you hear something along the lines of canned answers or responses. This is when you’ll observe they can address, supply, and fix your issue (or any issue) in one fell swoop before you’ve even finished describing it.

We’ve all heard them before and some of you are doing it unknowingly. It goes something like this:
You’re part of a conversation and someone says, “My purchasing manager and operation head just don’t seem to be getting along…”

Near immediately you hear, “I have just what you need for that! I developed this program called ‘Leadership Synergies.’ I believe this will address most of your problems. Why don’t I send you a proposal in the morning and you can look it over?”

Then you can’t seem to either get away, or shut them up. It’s like blood in the water for this person. And, they will not relent till they are convinced you understand why they are an “expert” on synergies.

It’s at times like these I’m wishing or praying there’s a “synergistic” trap door button.

Let me give you an example of this in greater detail.

Let’s say you have a department where frustration between executives and subordinates is always present. Tempers always seem to be on edge, inter department collaboration to resolve common issues is willfully absent. People just seem to be on edge most of the time and as an upper level executive you can feel it when you visit this department. Everyone is polite, but you know there’s just something not quite right.

This is also backed up by empirical evidence through reports that cross your desk where mistakes are being made and not corrected in timely manners, which in turn are causing more trouble down the line within other departments. e.g., The payroll department is making far too many errors and not just in getting the checks out on Fridays which in itself is causing consternation throughout the entire company.

What happens next is usually right on par whether you meet by chance, get cold called, are at a networking event, ________ fill in the blank.

While you’re speaking to someone this issue is raised or addressed in conversation. It sounds something like this: “I don’t know what is going on within one of my departments. Both the leadership teams as well as their subordinates just seem to be on edge and not working together as a cohesive department…”

Then the “methodology salesperson” chimes in: “Obviously it must be a leadership issue. Most issues are from the top down and it sounds like your department heads need additional training to work these issues out. I have a 2 day, or weekend, or whatever program that helps leaders become better. It’s called ‘Leadership: Stop Complaining And Start Hugging Program.’ I can tell by what you saying this is the right program to help in such things, blah, blah, blah…”

Then they go on, and on trying to box any and all questions into such things like: “Well, we can both agree if the leaders aren’t responding with the proper feedback to subordinates that can cause issue, wouldn’t you agree?” yada, yada, ya…..

Then for whatever the reason, fatigue, alcohol , hostage taking, or just banging someone’s head into submission, the deal get’s done and the program implemented.

And here is where everyone gets jaded. Why?

First, the people who need to attend usually have never been consulted, they’re just told “You need to attend this.” So the very people one wants to influence are now in varying states of aggravation. As far as they’re concerned, they don’t have time for this stuff. They have real work to do and taking time out for this “hug fest” is just ludicrous in their minds.

Second, It will be a waste of money for the company because it won’t address the real underlying issues because – the true issues or challenges were never discussed. It was purchased as some generic tool under the guise of specific implementation.

And finally what is probably even more damaging?

The very people who need a resolution won’t get one. And the people who are in positions to implement anything further will not seek out anything for fear of, once again, buying stuff they are more convinced than ever “doesn’t work.”

You may very well have a methodology that can produce certain results for specific issues. However, you can not implement strategy nor give advice if you don’t know the real issue. And that takes asking questions, some form of scope work to prove assumptions or accusations, and more. And what can be the real underlying cause just might be something so simple, a two-year old can spot it.

Think I’m off base?

What if the above scenario was caused by something no one ever thought, nor paid any mind to?

What if the real underlying cause was something as simple as the bathrooms on the floor of this department were constantly under repair forcing everyone to walk 4 floors up or down to use the facilities in another department? What if that other department was where all the top management were located? And for people not wanting to be seen as “not at their desks,” the next stop is 6 floors or the next building over? Think something like this would cause issues? Is methodology the answer here?

Take the time to ask the questions and have faith in your abilities to offer remedies that are truly needed. Sometimes the answers can be as clear as day but no one can focus because…      (think about it!)

What most companies don’t need is some form of an out of the box methodology training seminar. What they just might needed is a plumber.

Charging for the recommendation of a plumber, and not the seminar is worth far more while needing far less of a work load to produce true improvement for all involved.

What’s best is you will be seen as someone who truly can fix issues and will garner recommendations and referrals, rather than the vitriol and disdain that will be received by the “hug fest” leader.

So: How much is that worth?

© Mark St.Cyr