Caught in the vernacular

Mike and I got talking about those little phrases that are caught in the vernacular, things we hear every day that make us wince or stick in our craw, things that people believe are true yet are holding us back.  Business as usual.  There is something wrong with the culture.

We added a new one.  Some people need more managing.

We’d agreed to meet at Thinking Digital.  Both of us had bumped into each other many times over the two days yet never managed to sit down for a chat.  We met in a café in the Team Valley as I was on my way to Stanley for the Area Action Partnership and Mike was off to buy a book in town.  The building used to be a bank and the toilets were where the vault used to be.  I guess there are many buildings around that used to be banks, just as there are many that used to be pubs.

Business as usual is a phrase that gets me twisted.  People say it as if we have a business that is somehow split into two, with the mainstay of the work being the day to day repetitive tasks, the sort of bread and butter, and the rest is the new and exciting change stuff.  Yet the new and exciting stuff should be business as usual.  Unless you have a fire, a flood or a plague of frogs than all of your business is usual.

Then there is the culture.  How many people have you met who describe the culture of their organisation as something that they are somehow divorced from?  The culture goes on around them and despite them.  If you work in an organisation though you are the culture.  Everything we do either supports the way things are done or tries to rail against it.  If there is something wrong with the culture, then we need to question our own role in it.

So what about some people need managing?  This is probably the most insidious.  It implies that there are people who deliberately set out to skive off, swing the lead or worse, deliberately undermine the organisation.  There are people who set out to bite the hand that feeds.  Yet when you speak to anyone they are not that kind of person.  It is always someone else who is like that.

I think it was John Seddon who said that there are no bad people, just bad process.  Either no one needs managing or everyone needs managing.  Everyone needs coaching, guidance, direction, communication, companionship and many other things that add to the human condition.

If you find that there are people who are struggling to keep up with the organisation then they don’t need more managing, they need more understanding or more explanation or more help.

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