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Daily Archives: November 22, 2016

Responsibility, authority, and insanity

So this is pretty basic.  But it’s huge.

Problem: You are working at a bank and have been tasked with developing a new customer care program.  You’re making good progress, and reach out one day to a colleague for their ideas.  Word of the meeting gets around, and an executive walks into your office one day, assuming you’re floundering, and tells you what to do.

Problem: Your second grader is in trouble at school.  Teachers and other parents call you on the phone, asking you to fix the problem.  You are starting to develop some good ideas and making plans.  But one day, the school principal makes the decision to move your child to a special classroom.

Problem: You work on an automobile assembly line.  Your bonus depends on the quality of the cars you help to build.  You see a problem with a welding machine which would cost $100 to fix.  But management won’t approve the repair.

What’s the common pattern here?  It’s responsibility without authority: a good recipe for insanity.

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