The MHEDA Journal - Second Quarter, 2013 - (Page 44)
What Looks Good on Paper
BY DOUG CARTLAND
’m not kidding…
A contractor needed to tear down
a house to start a new construction a few years ago in Georgia. He
showed up, looked the job over, revved
up his machinery and proceeded to
tear down the wrong house. Really!
The wrong house!
Someone was living there (thankfully not at home at the time). If you
would’ve stood at the demolished
home and looked over your left shoulder, you would’ve seen the house that
should have been torn down about 100
I can hear Maxwell Smart now: “I
missed it by thaaat much.”
The foreman of the crew gave this
explanation: “This house (the one he
destroyed) lined up perfectly with the
GPS coordinates we were given.”
There are so many questions I would
ask that foreman if given the chance
(Did you check the address? Did you
peek in the window and see that it was
being lived in? Did you make a phone
call to be sure?) But suffice it to say,
it’s amazing how right some things
can look on paper.
Speaking of GPS…
I had a friend over one afternoon
and we were going to drive separate
vehicles to a picnic. I had been to the
site of the picnic a few times, but he
had a GPS. So I thought I would follow him. I thought maybe the GPS
would give us a better way to get there
than what I knew by having actually
The GPS did take us the shortest
trip in miles driven. However, what
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should have been a one hour journey
if we had gone the way I normally go,
took a full hour and a half because the
GPS didn’t consider lights, elements of
traffic, construction, etc.
The GPS has coordinates and statistics and diagrams and sometimes
a nice voice, but there is a difference
between the GPS and me…the GPS
has never actually driven the streets.
A GPS can tell me theoretically the
best way to travel around my home,
for example, but it doesn’t know
shortcuts that I know; it can’t inform
anyone which streets my village is
slow to plow in the winter and offer
an alternative route; it doesn’t have
in its coordinates the neighbor who
flags me down constantly to talk, and
whom I avoid at all costs. I know these
potential obstacles because I have, day
in and day out, experienced the drive.
Leaders, too, sometimes have coordinates and statistics and diagrams
and even a nice voice, but often not
the daily practical experience or
When I’ve hired people, I
never felt that I was just
hiring them to do a job for
me; I was also hiring them
to bring me ideas about
how they could do their
the day-to-day know-how that adds
incredibly vital meat to the decisionmaking bone.
A couple of years ago, I was consulting a large, very well-known
manufacturing company. One of the
senior execs is an engineer. The senior
team decided that they wanted to get
30 percent more out of the manufacturing floor. The engineer went to
work to see if there was a way to do it.
He spent months drawing and drafting and studying, adding and subtracting, measuring and calculating.
Finally, he had his plan in place. He
decided that, yes, it could be done
and he knew exactly how to do it.
The company then spent two weeks
implementing his plan. They moved
machinery, changed processes and
reorganized most everything.
In all of his research, however, the
senior exec never asked for input from
the people who actually do the work.
As he began to make his changes,
the employees began giving him feedback, explaining why many aspects of
his plan would not work. He ignored
their concerns; he considered them
Finally his plan was in place. It
didn’t work. Three months later they
put everything back the way it had
originally been. The cost to the company was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Too many times, leaders make decisions based on what should be correct.
They make decisions by what looks
right, by theoretical truths and by
what makes sense on paper.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The MHEDA Journal - Second Quarter, 2013
From the Desk of Liz Richards
Ask Your Board
MHEDA Member Profile
The Next Economic Cycle
In Case of Emergency – Disaster-Proofing Your Supply Chain
Exhibitors' Showcase Floor plan
Absorption Measures Performance and Sustainability
Exhibitors’ Showcase Product Guide
The Parachute Congress Made
Get Your Game On
An Expert, Advisor, Resource and Single Point of Contact
What Looks Good on Paper
Instilling Work Ethic in the Emerging Workforce
How to Get People to Do What You Want Them to Do
Search Engine Marketing Value Proposition
Spotlight on Association News
MHEDA University Calendar
Index of Advertisers by Product Category
The MHEDA Journal - Second Quarter, 2013