Wise leaders observe things closely but do not criticize things quickly. As critical thinkers they are always aware of gaps between where we are and where we desire to be but they are also aware that closing those gaps is not as easy a proposition as it may seem. 

In my experience, criticism is often directed primarily against other people while the real problems are often systems and processes more than they are people. Thus the criticism of people rather than thinking critically about the process or system is often unfair and misguided. It also then becomes personal when the real solution is usually impersonal.

A few years ago I became impatient about our ability in ReachGlobal to deliver on our clarity at the team level. I pushed my senior staff rather hard to close the gap and I think they felt the pressure. When I finally hired a consultant to help us think through our processes the solution was actually pretty simple - some simple tools to bridge the gap between our vision and clarity and our execution and the problem was not inherently with people but with our process. I had been somewhat critical of leaders when the solution was a simple tool that we now use regularly. The problem was not people but process. 

That insight spawned a whole new set of simple tools for us that actually come out of lean industry and manufacturing but which we call ministry excellence. When something is not going right we have  a tool to examine and understand the process we use and almost always the solution is in the process or system, not in a negligent individual. Usually we not only solve the issue but find other efficiencies as well.

Today I am far slower to criticize people and quicker to ask about our systems to find out why something is not working the way it should. Sometimes it does come down to a person who is in the wrong place but more often than not it does not. I also want to resist the easy criticism that pervades so many organizations.
  • Nov 08, 2012
  • Category: News
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