The Business-Technology Weave

Apr 9 2010   6:47AM GMT

False “Solutions” Part III: Automating Poor Process is Wasteful

David Scott David Scott Profile: David Scott


From time-to-time we’ll get back to “XYZ Corporation” and look at their “simplified” employee evaulation process…  be sure to read the first and second False “Solutions” posts:


In continuuing – XYZ’s first red flag should have been the assertion, or assumption, that the managers could not write.  The corporation couldn’t possibly have hired managers without some kind of writing skills.  The matter of poor writing was more a human failing on some part to hold managers accountable for their quality of writing.  The posit that “managers can’t write” should have been rejected outright.  The focus then should have been to set an expectation, a bar, for managers to clear for the quality of their writing.  HR, and anyone supervising a poor writer, should think about this condition as exposing a vulnerability, so as to expose a potential strength.  If you want your organization to write well, make that a goal.  What could HR’s next steps be?  Perhaps to sponsor a managers’ plan to get necessary people to training.  Perhaps to issue, or direct attention to, an organizational “style guide.”  The really important thing: hold people accountable for their writing – rate them on it in their own appraisals.  Judge their performance.  Trust me:  They’ll improve.


Therefore, for XYZ Corporation, there was no technical component, no technical solution, required for this element of the appraisal problem.  It is a problem of discipline and accountability, solved by senior managers, in holding people accountable for the quality of their work.  No computer or technical system is going to fix your business culture, or overcome lax attitudes. 


There was also the flawed analysis in the matter of automated reminders.  No technical assist here helped an adherence to schedule.  The only leverage that counts is how the reminders influence the receivers – the managers.  Could the appraisal software’s e-mail reminders do anything that HR’s former e-mail reminders could not?  In fact, there was no leverage to be had on the problem.  The managers’ response to the “new” reminders was the same – to largely ignore or overlook them.  HR viewed the automatic send-out of reminders from their own perspective: the efficiency standpoint of the sender (HR), not from a consideration of what the managers would do.  Again, getting users to respond to reminders is a matter of discipline and accountability outside of any computer or technical solution.


We’ll weave in and out of various topics, but we’ll be returning on a recurring basis to False “Solutions” – they are an ongoing problem for many, many organizations.

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