A man is walking alongside the road with a bag of rice and throwing rice outside the road.
Another man approaches him.
What are you doing?
I am throwing rice…
I can see that, but why are doing this?
I am keeping the tigers away
But, there are not tigers here in this area!
You see, it works!
The absurdity is not that different from many of our claims of ‘it works’ inside our organizations. ‘It works’ is not the proof of truth, or the total proof of concept, or the justification of a pristine process put in place.
In the old days of Quality Systems, a senior Motorola executive is quoted to have said (I am paraphrasing here) ‘ We can justify producing life jackets made of concrete provided that the right process is in place, has been qualified, and there are appropriate documents available to people to complain about the death of those who have used them’
‘It works’ is a trap. The mafia works. Dictatorships work. Human trafficking works. The III Reich worked. Until it stop working. All that works, may stop working. Or may continue to work.
We should expect leaders to have a more compelling argument about the ‘why’ and the ‘what’. ‘I don’t know’ is far more acceptable, if needed.
Absurdity in the organization may not come in the way of leaders trowing rice around, but it is often seeded in small doses in a lot of the day to day logic around Employee Engagement, what works and does not in Culture Change and Leadership, for that matter.
But, if you are desperate, you can always buy yourself a bag of rice