A little thought can make all the difference

Are You Interested in an Armor Upgrade?

paradeAs I mentioned in Monday’s post, I spent part of the weekend at Dragon*Con, a convention for enthusiasts of all things science fiction, comics, role playing, fantasy, computer gaming and more. It was intriguing, to say the least, to see people walking around with weapons of all sorts. By policy, all weapons had to be non-working and peace-bound. What a relief!

Peace-bound or not, it was odd to see people in all kinds of costumes walking around the convention and participating in the annual parade. As football fans from Virginia Tech and Alabama began their tailgating experience Saturday morning, soldiers, orcs, storm troopers, wizards and characters of all shapes and sizes walked down Peachtree Street in Atlanta. College football fans and avid Star Trek fans all gathered in the same place.

Walking through the vendor areas I heard expressions I quite possibly have never heard before.
“Why, that is a fine sword indeed.”
“But an elf would never wear a vest like that.”
“These Wolverine claws can be used as a dicer in the kitchen.”
“Are you interested in upgrading your armor?”

An armor upgrade. Why yes, the perfect solution.
How many times do we propose solutions that we believe protect an employee, but instead we weigh them down with unneccesary burden. Things that don’t help them do their job better, but reduce performance.

In safety, that comes in the expectation to don more PPE – Personal Protective Equipment. In grievance resolution, we create a process to prevent future grievances of this type, but the process consumes organizational energy and resources that could be better placed improving the real processes of the organization. You know, the ones that make money and that should be better than what the competition does.

Do your employees think of protection and policies as armor, because contact is inevitable? Or do they recognize PPE as a seatbelt – you hope you never need it, but when it comes into play you are glad you have it on. More armor is just more cumbersome. That’s fine if you enjoy a role play and dress up a couple of times a year. But it is not the best solution for day to day.

Could you imagine a safety or policy improvement effort aimed at reducing cost by totally eliminating the need for a certain type of PPE? How about eliminating the need for knives as a tool, and coincidentally eliminating the need for cut-proof gloves? Or replace that eight page absentee policy with one page. If you can’t say it simply, you are managing the wrong thing.

It’s a dream, a fantasy perhaps. But sometimes a good dream leads to a real world solution.

Let’s be careful out there.

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