Confessions of a Tooth Fairy written and performed by Kristen Wiig & Melinda Hill
Conceptually, everything can be made simple. However, in its execution, nothing is ever simple. Not even the job of tooth fairy. Yet, it occurred to me, as it may have occurred to you, that if the two tooth fairies in the video paired up and worked as a team, things might have been easier for them, or maybe not. I love pairing; I think it’s great. However, even that obvious solution may be too simplistic for this problem.
Lately, I’ve noticed that seemingly simple and obvious solutions have been so far off the mark that the outcomes have had seriously negative repercussions. The government shut-down this month, October 2013, comes to mind. Why anyone in our Congress would think that denying health care to the seriously ill and furloughing workers who are living a hand to mouth existence is the way to make a point is beyond my ken. Another embarrassment in the news this month is the failure of many of the online Health Exchanges. Most are blaming the large volume of hits as the cause of their failure. That’s disingenuous. Not only was the load predicted, it isn’t the only problem. Despite all the talking head meetings, risks weren’t fully explored and bad decisions were made.
Even on our Agile teams, I see productivity slow-downs and disengagement as the repercussions of poor decisions. There is a disconnect between the intention, the ultimate goal, and the behavior. There is also a tendency to keep things at a high level, and not use any critical decision making tools. There is a tendency to see “having a meeting” as the solution.
Here is my ABC didactic when it comes to meetings:
- Meetings and mandates don’t solve problems
- Meetings must have a purpose, an agenda, and an expected output.
- Meetings must also include next steps and action items which identify specific owners and target dates. This is the execution that manifests in the real world.
- Participant engagement is critical to success
- Do people feel that their time is being wasted with busy work or unnecessary meetings? Are meetings scheduled at inconvenient times or places? Do meeting go forward when key stakeholders are missing? Do artificial constraints such as an arbitrary deadline or schedule trump common sense?
- Do all the participants feel their voices matter? Are voices over-ridden by authority figures or by a “majority rule” interpretation of consensus? Are some of the participants ignored, dismissed, or always silent?
- Tactics must align with Strategy
- Critical thinking and disciplined decision making practices that explore risks are compulsory activities. Six Sigma, Lean and Innovation Games® have a wealth of collaborative exercises. Use them. Summarize the output and make it part of your ongoing process so as not to lose sight of insights, risks, and critical to quality criteria (CTQ).
- No tactic is too small to be considered. Lately, my biggest successes have been the results of very small tactical moves. Remember, God, or the devil, is in the details.
As for our friends the Tooth Fairies, they’ve certainly had an interesting meeting. For the sake of children everywhere, I hope they follow up on their meeting so as to figure out how they can successfully, and happily, “take the tooth and leave the money.”