From the example on the “Your Best Leverage” page, poor Bob has to build a wall but has no material. There is a crisis! And in the male workplace that is a cry for action! But will the male approach really solve the crisis or just lead to new problems?
Let’s look at how the guys solve the problem:
Bob needs his material. Enter Mike. Mike has a reputation for making things happen. He is what I call a Great American Alligator Slayer. When the company is up to its waist in problems (alligators) and needs them solved they call Mike. He is a combination of Teddy Roosevelt and John Wayne. He will kill the alligators and solve problems with his big guns and larger than life personality! We fear him, admire him and are in awe of him. We need a “Mike” to solve this.
Mike calls a second vendor, one he has a great relationship with. Because of their rapport, Mike knows he can count on this vendor to come through in a crisis. The vendor can get the material…well sort of. It’s not exactly as the contract specified but Mike, from his experience, knows the material will work. Because of the material quality and the rush delivery, the material will cost $45,000 more than what Ken contracted for. Mike orders the material, it arrives and Bob can build his wall.
Once again, Mike got it done!! Crisis obverted! Everyone can breathe a sigh of relief.
But have you heard this saying? – “Today’s problems come from yesterday’s solutions.”
Mike got the material delivered – he made it happen – but in the doing so he created a few new problems.
- Tim has to get a new submittal package from Mike’s vendor and send it to the architects. Hopefully Gary can get it approved quickly – before anyone catches the material deviation and stops the wall from being built. And Tim and Gary hope the architects don’t get mad at the rework and ask for more money.
- Speaking of money, Ken’s $30,000 savings is now a $15,000 loss, not to mention the original material is in transit and will need to be returned at a cost. Ken now has to deal with the original vendor and amend his contract. He also has to do a new contract with Mike’s vendor and explain to senior management, the increased cost, the problem and why the material was bought outside of normal procedures. Ken has to get his butt chewed.
- Mike’s decision impacted other projects too. When he ordered the material he maxed out the credit limit at the vendor so now other projects are screaming that they can’t buy any material from that vendor. Maybe there are some unpaid invoices that the Finance department can find and pay this week so other projects are not held up on their work.
What Mike did was force the expansion of his Sphere of Control but in doing so he shrunk that of others.
As a Project Manager I have two other concerns.
- The focus was getting the material on site so the wall could start on a specified date. It cost in excess of $45,000 to do that. But if the wall started late, what would be the impact? Is the negative impact worth more than $45,000?
- Since the guys are so good at managing processes, are we sure Bob can actually start the wall on the date specified?? Is the material is going to sit for a couple of days while the previous task finishes?
In short, was starting the wall on the specified date, so important that the crises that came about from re-ordering the material better than the impending doom we obverted?? Or did we go through all of this for nothing or very little benefit?
If the guys you work with are very action oriented, then these questions may not get asked. Again, this requires pulling back and looking at the big picture.
In a typical company, this crisis – solution scenario gets played out over and over again. And as we saw “the solution” had ripple effects that threw other people into crisis.
Think about the impact on a company when this plays out every day.
Think about the impact on the company when the Mikes in a company are rewarded and promoted. What message is being sent to the Bobs and Tims and Daves?
Do you conclude from this that the male dominated workplace is inefficient and full of crisis management BUT ripe with opportunity for you?
The empowered woman knows that real heroism comes from preventing the crisis in the first place.
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