Oh no! It’s a work crisis– customers can’t connect to mission critical software or a quality issue is discovered in the last shipment. It’s time to call in the heroes. Heroes are people who typically work behind the scenes while maintaining massive expertise about the inner-workings of company’s systems, processes, and requirements. During a business crisis, most testing and vetting protocols are pushed aside allowing heroes to work unfettered as they implement another miracle solution.
Unfortunately, this Herculean effort is quickly forgotten along with all of the severe warnings issued minutes before implementation. You know, the warnings like: “Of course, when you run the monthly reports this will all have to be re-coded,” or “This is only temporary, a valid long-term solution will cost $1.25 per widget.” Usually, just enough time passes between crises to allow these make-shift fixes to pile up causing more tangled problems in the future.
And here’s the rub:
- Urgent Isn’t Sustainable: Emergency fixes tend to be substitutes for well-thought out solutions. Unintentionally, temporary patches become permanent very quickly. Stopgap measures tend to add up, and suddenly, supportability and scalability are lost. Think of the time spent on just reviewing how the new hack will affect the old hacks… I am familiar with a company that has used the acronym TOES for 20 years; it stands for Temporary Order Entry System!
- Chaos Isn’t Culture: Can you relate to the “heroes” that swoop in and save the day on a regular basis? Can employees learn to crave the rush of adrenaline, countless “thank yous,” and feelings of significant accomplishment? You bet! Dealing with a work crisis can defeat boredom and job fatigue! It forces rapid consensus suspending political gridlock and budgetary limitations. A hero may secretly love a good crisis and may not be entirely dedicated to preventing them.
- Strategy Isn’t Free: There is a cost to implementing solutions strategically. Time, money, and employees are needed to development, test, and implement. Sincere investment of these valuable resources is expected to prevent glitches in the mission critical system or a batch of best-selling widgets. Investments like these yield tangible results, but the results are hard to quantify. On the other hand, when you are sitting around the boardroom table eating cold pizza at 3:00AM fixing something that could have been avoided, it becomes very easy to quantify!
Are you or is your team ALWAYS in need of a miracle? If so, it is time to reconsider the organization’s attitude toward crisis. It does take more resources to strategize and implement with vigilance– and it is especially hard to shift the corporate culture. Using caution to prevent chaos establishes more stability and scalability in the long run. Ultimately, it is better to a hero preventing a crisis than a hero fixing a crisis.
|ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Sugerman, an Executive Business Consultant with Leading Synergies, helps high-performing executives refine strategy, inspire teams, and delight clients (specializing in information technology, project management, consulting, and franchise management). She also leads Synergy Groups, weekly 55-minute case study conference calls for REALLY BUSY Christians in leadership. Michelle lives in Colorado where she hikes fourteeners and enjoys gourmet meals with her loving husband of 20 years.|