Sunday, 01 April 2012 00:00

Managers' Inability to Tie Shoes and Their Resistance to Change

Rate this item
(0 votes)

Inefficiency test

Why would anyone need to teach a group of managers how to tie their shoes? It seems improbable anyone could make it to this point in his or her career lacking this simple skill. However, I feel quite confident that a vast majority of project managers, managers, leaders, and probably you, are improperly lashing your laces. This prognostication will go one step further stating that even after proving a better method, they, and you, will be unwilling to put forth the effort to change. Adopting change, beyond just tying your shoes, is at the root of our inability to improve many of our business processes. Furthermore, studying this behavior and the subsequent difficulty of maintaining a new and better method will help us understand the high recidivism rate.

The Inefficiency Of Multitasking

Untied Shoes How we tie our shoes rarely affects our work performance. Therefore, let us look at a work pattern that most realize is inherently inefficient, yet continue to follow—multitasking. Reflect on any of the specialty project methodologies, such as Agile and Critical Chain. They have many common traits, but the most obvious is dedicating people to tasks. Intuitively you know that if you want something done quickly and with the least number of errors, dedicate the person doing the task to the work. However, our days are interrupt-driven. Everyone feels their project is most important and that we need to stop what we are doing to provide a slice of time to assist them. The result is that nothing completes on time.

Look at this simple example. Think about three tasks. Each is two weeks long and they all have the same due date. In order for your boss to make everyone feel good, you are instructed to multitask and work on these tasks in one-week time slices. On the first week you flow through half of the first task, the second week they schlog through half of the second task, and on the third week they lunge through the last. By the end of three weeks, all are half complete. Now you can complete each task in the subsequent three weeks. The result is that the first task two weeks late, the second three weeks late, and last four weeks late.

Now consider dedicating your time to each of the three tasks—completing one before you start the other. In this situation, the first task completes on time. The second task is finishes two weeks late; the third is four weeks late. The first and second tasks actually complete earlier than in the multitasking example and the third at exactly the same time. Over all, the tasks are completed earlier. The only sponsor upset is the one needing task three completed. They are, however, no worse off than when multitasking.

Task Switching

 

If this has left you unconvinced, consider the inefficiencies of task switching. Most of us know it is a problem; however, we struggle to express it in quantitative terms. To help, try this example.

Time how long it takes you to write down the word "inefficient" followed by the numbers one through eleven. If you want, use the template to the left. Now, in a second pass, repeat the exercise by multitasking. Write an "i" and below it a "1," then "n" followed by the "2", etc. until both rows are filled. In nearly every situation, the multitasked process tasks twice as long as the dedicated writing process.

Armed with this data, convincing your peers of the evils of multitasking should be easy. You can be the evangelist for dedicating resources, increasing your company's performance, and enhancing employees' moral. It is not that easy, however. Change is difficult and even if people are convinced that the change is good, they quickly revert to their old ways. As convinced as we are that multitasking wastes time, and regardless of how hard we strive to remove it, people will continue to jerk around priorities requiring slicing our time between different tasks. There is no way to fight the will of the group. The excuses will pour in. "But, the boss...", "she is the only one who can...", and "If we do not get this done right now..." ring around the building as people forget their lesson and regress.

Still Not Tying Your Shoes Properly

The group, however, is not the problem. It is our own comfort. To illustrate, let us return to the opening premise—your improper procedure for tying shoes. In 2005, Terry Moore gave a TED presentation (view at left) that illustrates that a large majority of us only believe we know how to tie shoes. I trust TED, but was quite skeptical of this accusation. Therefore, I carefully tested the hypothesis for four weeks. For the first two weeks, I tied left laces the way I have for years and the right shoe per Mr. Moore's instructions. Then I switched sides. Alas, he was right. Daily my wife would ask me if I tied my shoes right. She was amazed at the difference. You might think the test would eliminate the double knots and the untied shoes. Alas, today both shoes came untied. In my haste to leave the house, I reverted to my old ways. No "organization" to blame, just me.

Can You Maintain Change?

I have challenged many to make the shoe-tying switch. After a month, I get excuses on why it is impossible to maintain the new way. The most common: "When I double-tie my shoes that way they look funny" and "They still come untied when I step on the laces." We are comfortable in our messy, miserable, and misfit methods so we look for reasons to maintain our old, comfortable, and deficient ways. I challenge you to try tying your laces correctly. Set an example for your peers, your bosses, your company, show them you can change! And, show them that reversion is normal and that it takes the support of a team to go up against the norm.

Come back in two weeks and tell us how you have done with those shoes, too.

Read 24154 times

Related items

  • People vs Process Track Session/Keynote Example

    If you want educational keynote many of our presentations can be keynotes or track sessions. In the example below, the presentation People or Process: Which Impacts Project Success More? is given as a track session.  

    Example People vs Process keynote as a track session

    This session was given at the PMI Sioux Empire Professions Development Day help in Sioux Falls SD on September 9, 2014.

  • Visualizing Change Example

    Visualizing Change presentations have the impact of physicalizing inanimate objects and events. They are fun and involve many of the people in the workshop or presentation. In general, it is easy to get people interested in attending since mentioning that there are rope, chains, whips and blindfolds have a tendency to pique people's interest. But don't worry, as you will see from the video, this is a child-friendly event. The props physicalize constraints, chains of command, slave drivers, ignorance, and the like.

    Many discussions are held ahead of the event to ensure that the correct issues are addressed. This presentation can model nearly any problem or change by helping define the current and future states in a very jocular and interactive manner.

    Visualizing change presentations and workshops cannot be done online.

    Visualizing Change Example
  • Filling Execution Gaps: How Executives and Project Managers Turn Corporate Strategy into Successful Projects
    What Filling Execution Gaps Covers

    Filling Execution Gaps

    by Todd C. Williams
    ISBN: 978-1-5015-0640-6
    De G Press (DeGruyter), September 2017

    Project alignment, executive sponsorship, change management, governance, leadership, and common understanding. These six business issues are topics of daily discussions between executives, middle management, and project managers; they are the pivotal problems plaguing transformational leadership. Any one of these six, when improperly addressed, will hex a project's chances for success. And, they do—daily—destroying the ability companies to turn vision into value.

    Check it out on Amazon or the Filling Execution Gaps website

    Without the foundation of a common understanding of goals and core concepts, such as value being critical to success, communication stops and projects fail.

    Without change management, users fail to adopt project deliverables, value is lost, and projects fail.

    Without maintaining alignment between corporate goals and projects, projects miss their value targets and projects fail.

    Without an engaged executive sponsor, scope increases, goals drift, chaos reigns, value is lost, and projects fail.

    Without enough governance, critical connections are not made, steps are ignored, value is overlooked, and projects fail.

    Too much governance slows progress, companies cannot respond to business pressures, value drowns in bureaucracy, and projects fail.

    Without strong leadership defining the vision and value, goals are not set, essential relationships do not form, teams do not develop, essential decisions are not made, and projects fail.

  • Filling Execution Gaps: Building Success-Focused Organizations

    Executives define vision, strategy, and goals to advance the business. Projects enable companies to meet those goals. Between strategy and projects, there is a lot of work to be done—work that lays the foundation for project and operational success. Through experience and research, six common gaps exist in organizations that inhibit project success—an absence of common understanding, disengaged executive sponsors, misalignment with goals, poor change management, ineffective governance, and lackluster leadership.

  • Get Recognized as a Leader: Four Core Leadership Actions

    Leaders make decisions. This requires a core set of actions to gather the best information, hear out the concerns of others, and making a decision that everyone will follow—even if there is not unanimous agreement with the decision. Although there are hundreds of actions leaders must take, there are four core actions that all great leaders do—listening, dialog and discussion, selling a vision, and eliminating blame. This session will discuss those actions in a roundtable format that we call a "What Would You Do?" session. In these sessions, the presenter acts as a moderator spending 10 to 15 minutes per topic working with the audience talking about what the action is, how to best do it, and hearing from the group on how they have carried out the action. This brings significant audience interaction, involvement, and broader education. 

Leave a comment

Filling Execution Gaps

Available Worldwide

Filling Exectution Gaps cover

Filling Execution Gaps is available worldwide. Below are some options.

 

PG DirectLogo
Limited Time Price $20.99
Amazon logo
Book or Kindle
Flag of the United States Canadian Flag Flag of the United Kingdom Irish Flag Deutsche Flagge
Drapeau Français Bandiera Italiana PRC flag
Japanese flag
Bandera de España
Flag of India
Bandera de México
Bandeira do Brasil
Flag of Australia
Vlag van Nederland
DeG Press Logo
Barnes and Noble Logo
Books a Million Logo
Booktopia Logo
Worldwide: Many other
book sellers worldwide.

Rescue The Problem Project

Internationally acclaimed

Image of RPP

For a signed and personalized copy in the US visit the our eCommerce website.

Amazon logo
Buy it in the United States Buy it in Canada Buy it in the United Kingdom
Buy it in Ireland Buy it in Germany Buy it in France
Buy it in Italy Buy it in the PRC
Buy it in Japan
Book sellers worldwide.

Upcoming Events

Other's References

More Info on Project Recovery

Tell me More!

Please send me more information
on fixing a failing project.

Sitemap