Monday, January 28, 2013

The Neglected Big Question

It is not enough to ask, "What should be done?" Nor is it sufficient to ask, "What progress has been made?"

Those two questions usually get a lot of attention. In most jobs, you know the goals and the measurements. What is not asked enough is "How should the job be done?"

Of course, total quality management - remember those days? - gets into that question but for many positions, there is a gap. You're supposed to know how the job is done, right? But the levels above "acceptable" or "meets standards" are not adequately explored.

That can leave a great deal of room for improvement for even if performance seems to be quite good, how much better could it be?

And do we know that?


Jeff said...

I can't tell you how much it raises my hair to hear the phrases "good enough" or "commercially acceptable."

How should it be done? Aim a bit higher than expectation I always say... :)

- J.

Michael Wade said...


They are alarm bells. I find it difficult to see how people can evaluate work when there is no sense of how well a job can be performed.

It reminds me of the old Jackie Mason joke about his mother not knowing how much he drank until one day when he came home sober.


Dan in Philly said...

As I grow older I believe there's a real training gap in the middle management sector. Everyone wants to be an executive and those in middle management might be considered the leftovers, victims of the Peter Principle. And yet it’s the very middle managers, often unsung in the modern economy, who can make the difference of doing something well and doing something poorly.

Michael Wade said...


Middle management is where a lot of the action is. Given the fact that people are staying in jobs longer, there are many middle managers who are "all dressed up with nowhere to go" - highly talented people who, in the past, would have been promoted.

Developing them is one way of keeping them and it certainly helps morale.