A senior manager in a Fortune 50 company, to whom I reported for quite a few years, always insisted that his staff understand that, “If you can smell smoke anywhere, go and investigate, because it could be fire; and part of your job is to put out fires before they happen. “
For example, if a customer is loud and unhappy, find out why and fix it. Seldom does it happen when one loud customer is not happy that there aren’t many more quiet customers also unhappy with the same issue. If you have unhappy customers than you are not doing your job.
In a recent issue of the Orange Leader, (and on the paper’s Facebook page) there was an article entitled “TEA doesn’t tell the whole story”, which reported on the most recent WOCCISD school board meeting. At that meeting, an unnamed district employee, in relation to people raising issues about the districts recent grades from the Texas Education Agency, was quoted in the local paper as saying, “Don’t listen to the noise”.
Any business manager that dismisses smoke because they can’t see the fire is a hazard to operations at hand. Likewise, when a public official says, “Don’t listen to the noise” when the noise is coming from taxpayers and voters, that person is a hazard to the operations at hand.
Let me tell you a quick story.
Two men, good friends, would take a week each year and go moose hunting in the backwoods of Maine. They would rent a cabin on a lake where there are no roads and hire a float-plane (sea-plane) to fly them out to the cabin.
After arriving at the cabin this year, the new pilot told the hunters that the plane was too small to carry out both hunters and their gear plus two moose. They could only get one moose rather than one each.
When the pilot came back a week later he found that the hunters had gotten two moose. The pilot again told them the plane was too small; that with all that weight it would not be able to take off, let alone clear the trees.
The hunters argued that the pilot last year had said the same thing and his plane was the same size and with two moose they were able to take off and clear the trees. After much argument, the pilot gave in.
As the plane taxied across the lake it shook like crazy, finally after a very long distance it got into the air and just barely cleared the trees.
Then, poof! The plane went down propeller first into the trees.
Shortly after that, the two hunters crawled out from under the wreckage. The first one, dazed, looked around and said, “Where are we?” The second one spied the lake and said, “About 100 yards further than we were last year”.
That, my friends, is one way to measure progress.
In the same newspaper article mentioned above entitled “TEA doesn’t tell the whole story”, the word PROGRESS is mentioned in the article twice. In my experience, progress is usually judged according to one or more benchmarks. I wonder how WOCCISD measures progress?
J David Derosier consults with small business on planning and marketing issues, and provides web design and hosting services through www.OhainWEB.com He can be reached at JDAVID@Strategy-Planning.info.