Real action has reasonable chances of achieving results. Fake action has little or no chance of producing results; its main concern is establishing an alibi.
When have you seen fake action? Whenever you've been subjected to the following representative but hardly all-inclusive list:
- A supervisor who doesn't confront the problem employee but instead chooses to send a policy reminder memo to everyone in the office.
- A manager who calls a staff meeting to address a problem that may arise every five years, if then.
- An executive who reorganizes reporting relationships every four months.
- An executive who falls for every "flavor of the month" management theory while ignoring the basics of good management.
- The CEO who pushes glitzy projects at the expense of more substantive, but more difficult, approaches.
If you want to test whether or not an item is real or fake, just ask yourself, "Does this action have a reasonable expectation of success or is it: (a) a simple ego boost or; (b) an act of desperation; or (c) a means of conflict avoidance?"