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Heads or Tails - It Can Make All the Difference to the Work You Do
Thu 3rd August, 2017 lmc-solutions-facebook lmx-solutions-tweet lmc-solutions-linked-in lmc-solutions-google-plus lmc-solutions-tell-a-friend
Head down tail up

You know how sometimes we get so into what we are doing that it consumes us to the point where one day we look up and realise we’ve forgotten the reason why we did it in the first place? Our head is so buried in the detail we lose sight of what it was we were trying to achieve.

A lot in life is like that: the routine of the work we do that, in this technological age. may no longer be necessary but we keep doing it because it’s what we’ve always done; the way we always follow the same route to a place even when (and I remind my partner of this frequently) it is not the most efficient or fastest route but just the one we’ve got into the habit of taking; or shopping at the same store, eating at the same restaurant, or using the same supplier because we get reasonable service and we know everyone by name, so that when the outlet folds due to the mall going up in the next block, or because they were bought out by a competitor, we feel a ripple in the fabric of our universe as we realise that nothing ever was as good as we thought it was and why didn’t we make the move sooner?

For the last 13 months I’ve had my head down and tail up trying to learn as much as I could about the workings of local government while also trying to make a difference in the lives of the team members I worked with and the customers who came in contact with our services on a daily basis. My job was to map all the key processes in the business with a view to looking for efficiencies so the organisation could do more with less resource – a common business requirement in these ever-changing times.   It was exhausting work as there was so much to learn that didn’t always make sense in the first instance and so forced me to dig deeper and ask more searching questions. The path would become winding and more thickly overgrown until it petered out altogether at yet another dead end. No one wanted to face up to what my questions ultimately meant.

I realised that many of us never stop to ask the question: Why am I doing this? and if we do, we fail to follow up with the second part of the question: why am I doing this this way? I was so busy asking other people these questions and trying to sort out the answers that I forgot to ask myself the same questions. When I finally did I realised that while I’d been busy for nearly all the time I had spent in the job, I had achieved little more than the generation of lots of questions that no one could or would give me a straight answer to and all the aggravation that goes along with questioning the work people do.  Some thought I was out of place in the asking and others were concerned that the answers might in some way reflect on the quality of the work they were doing. My concern wasn’t how well folk did their work but whether or not it was work that needed doing at all.

Asking questions like this just gets people defensive and so I failed to have any impact on the way people in the job did the job because I couldn’t get to the bottom of the why. As a result, despite several efforts to paint an alternative picture, I hadn’t made any difference to the way our customers’ perceive us; there was no fundamental change in the way things happened and so I had to ask the why question of myself.

There is no one right answer of course just as there is no single reason why some organisations lead a market and others prefer to lag behind it. I was used to working with leaders, I got lumped with a lagger and no amount of memo writing, reporting, recommendations, or telling them so was going to change that.  When your customers have nowhere else to go, not one cares that you are a lagger.

It was not surprising then that I made the decision to leave them to their work the way they’ve always done it and I’ve taken myself back to the drawing board to try to find a way, in the twilight of my career, to make that difference I thought I could do with the job.

I have no clue at this stage but this is a start – I’m blogging again and I hope that out of the thoughts and views I explore here, a path will emerge that leads me to where I need to be. For now, it is refreshing to have my head up and tail firmly tucked under asI explore this next chapter in my life.

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