Guest post: Efficiency isn’t just doing things faster

Originally a comment by Bruce Gorton on Efficiency drive.

It kind of reminds me of something I read on Cracked once, they were interviewing someone from the military who had to brief GW Bush on something.

What the guy found was that he had basically one sentence to give the information the president wanted, which he chalked up to the president having so much to do that he couldn’t afford to waste any time. The president was surprisingly sharp you see!

This in turn reminded of another report in which somebody was supposed to brief the president on tax and the president cut him down a peg or two – and this showed how smart Bush was. Nevermind that the person he was cutting down a peg or two was an actual expert who may just have been nervous briefing the president, and thus the drive to cut him down was actually getting in the way of getting some valuable information.

GW Bush’s presidency was likely the second worst presidency in American history. You’re looking at the worst one now.

And a lot of it had to do with that machismo approach to leadership, wherein the whole shebang comes down to putting people in their places, and being decisive and thus failing to create an open management environment. Instead of encouraging discussion, you encourage rushed decisions tainted with groupthink.

How much information can you pack into one short sentence?

Efficiency isn’t just doing things faster, it isn’t cutting out every delay, it is doing something properly once so you don’t have to do it again. That can mean taking the time required to do it properly.

And that is the real root problem with the Republicans in management – not the corruption, not the inhumanity, not even the dogmatism, it is this inability to take a breath and slow things down so that good decision making can happen.

So they fire the most competent, experienced voices because those are the ones who are most likely to raise objections and slow things down so that there is time to actually make them work, rather than just having the illusion of swift, decisive action.

The result is that quality drops. Exxon has a history of disasters based upon failures to gather information, the Deepwater Horizon disaster for example. Rex Tillerson’s experience isn’t irrelevant, the corporate culture he came from is relevant – as a warning.

But this is what Republicans see as being smart, because it is quick and decisive and very, very macho. Intimidation is not good leadership, good leadership is having the ability to make the best of your team, getting them to open up about potential problems, or even solutions, is part of that.

Unfortunately that is not what you’ve got right now.

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