Monday, September 15, 2008

The Masochist

Old joke: The masochist says, "Beat me! Beat me!" and the sadist replies, "Later."

I recalled that while reviewing the case of a work team that was befuddled by - and this is a strictly non-professional opinion - a masochist.

The individual would complain. In response, the supervisor and others would rush about to make matters right and then, just when all seemed to be well, the individual would do something that would destroy all progress. The team was busily bailing water out of the boat while the masochist was drilling holes.

It finally struck them that their colleague, despite all claims to the contrary, enjoyed the problem. Any attempts at resolution would be insufficient because the problem they were tackling was the wrong one.

All of which leads to a question to consider early on in any problem-solving exercise: Do all of the participants truly want a solution?


Anonymous said...

Actually, I thought the sadist said, "Maybe." But that's not important now.

Great post with an important point. Thank you. Many times the problem solving team has players who don't want a solution or many players who want different solutions.

Michael Wade said...

Thanks, Wally.

I'm amazed that someone remembers any version of that joke!

Sorting out the team players who aren't with the program is a key step. I've seen team volunteers whose sole motive was to sabotage the team. Sad, but it happens.