Pin The Tail On The Donkey

This game keeps popping into my mind recently, because sometimes when observing how we do things, it can feel like this way. If you are not familiar with the game, it involves a picture of a donkey without a tail. The participant is blindfolded, spun around and expected to pin the tail to the correct area on the donkey. The one who gets the tail nearest to the right spot gets to win the game. I am guessing as with anything else in life, you could improve your performance with practice.

It occurred to me recently that sometimes we get to play this kind of game, attempting to get a result even when we are not sure where the donkey is, never mind his rear end.  We sometimes delegate the task not really knowing how skilled the person is or even how often they have played the game.  Often this works and at others the tail gets pinned but not quite in the place we had hoped.  The results will depend upon the level of orientation of the individual.

In the current financial climate, educating people in donkey tail management can seem like a luxury (hope you are still with me here). Education and training especially for non-professional team members can be affected. The potential downside of this means that you have less people available to allocate the task to, they may also be less skilled and had less training than is ideal. The paradox is, with less people skilled in tail management, the more skilled the ones you have need to be.  If we don’t get this right, the skill of managing a disappointed donkey (and it’s tail handler) becomes more of a priority than the skill of making sure the tail is in the right place.

If none of this makes sense to you, what I am pointing to suggests that without the training and development of our teams, they get to fumble around in the dark, through trial and error or by chance,  we may get the results that are required. It’s a shortsighted strategy that results in much of our time being spent managing disappointment. So let’s play a new game, one that involves getting it right first time, and if you think this isn’t possible, ask Toyota. They might introduce you to their Lean donkey.

The Book Notes on Nursing a Thought by Paula Goode, available at goodeinsight.co.uk

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