Shiny Wheel, Shiny Car?
It would seem silly to spend Saturday morning cleaning and polishing one wheel of your car, wouldn't it? In fact, it would look funny driving down the road with a dirty, muddy car, except for one, sparkling clean wheel.
If you look around, you’ll notice shiny wheels everywhere. In other words, suboptimal. So, suboptimal is when someone focuses on one part of a system and ignores the whole. It happens all the time. We find it at home, in our personal lives, and at work.
Missing The Point
I once saw two managers arguing over a scrap part. One department supplied the other, and it wasn’t clear how it became damaged. What was clear, was neither manager wanted to report the scrap. Their focus was on “not taking the hit”, not looking bad to their boss.
So, the dance continued, two men trying to optimize their scrap reports and ignoring the real problem. Did they discuss looking for the cause of the scrap, so they could eliminate it? Were they willing to work together? Unfortunately, they held their heated discussion on the production floor, in front of their employees. Soon, the argument spilled over and both departments were at odds. Suboptimal behavior and its consequences.
Suboptimization happens in our personal lives too. The Christmas holiday just ended, and I had to let out my belt a notch. In other words, I gained a few pounds. I don’t even have to step on the scales to know the impact of those delicious family meals. So, as I zipped around Michigan, going to family events and visiting friends, I slipped out of balance with diet, exercise and sleep.
The good news is, unlike the two managers, I’m willing to evaluate the whole system of my life and work on things that will bring it back into alignment.
Although less than two weeks has passed, I'm already back to my normal belt notch:) It's a real life example of how understanding the big picture, measuring the right things and optimizing, gets the desired result.
I have an additional resource for you. Several times a year, I take a few minutes to jot down what’s important to me and why. It helps me identify what's really important and lays the foundation for the work I need to do. You can access the PDF here:
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