Remember the good ol days?!
Do you remember as a kid when your Mom or Dad told you to do something that you did not want to do, or at least not right then. The “discussion” went back and forth. You came up with every reason that you should not have to do it. When that failed you gave all the reasons it could wait until later. Finally you would make the costly fatal mistake. You would ask something in exasperation like, “Why do I have to do it right this minute?!” to which the “discussion” ending answer would be stated authoritatively: ”Cause I said so!”
I have two sons, 20 and 17 years old. Long gone are the days when that phrase works for me at home! Furthermore, as an emotionally intelligent leader, I have avoided using such language in the work place unless it is completely unavoidable. I can count on one hand the number of times I have used it in 28 years as a leader, and count on one finger the times I have felt good about it afterwards!
Thankfully, a couple of weeks ago, some colleagues educated me on another phrase that can be used in the workplace as effectively as my parents’ infamous “Cause I said so!”
We are implementing an expedited service, spanning a large part of the organization. What normally takes hours we are going to do in minutes. In order to achieve this, I needed something from a support department that would allow us to perform mock run tests of the system under the new time constraints to identify potential failure points and make necessary adjustments.
Without getting into details let’s just say that what I thought was a simple request was not seen that way by my colleagues in this support area. In fact, they thought that I should have come to them a lot sooner in the process and do it in a particular manner they preferred. I thought my way was a lot easier, offered little risk, and asked them if they would make an exception to their normal process.
I don’t know if you have ever asked for an exception from a support service, but it can be a little like a kid trying to win an argument with his/her parents. It’s an uphill battle at best, and useless at worst. This time, however, I knew I had the high ground. There were no new processes to speak of, and I just needed one little thing to be able to do our testing. I am a persuasive guy, I knew I would convince them of my logical reasoning.
So… the discussion began. I employed my best emotionally intelligent communication techniques. I kept emotion out of it, listened more than talked and explained the logic behind my reasoning. In the end, I failed! They maintained it had to be done their way. No exceptions could be made. Then I did the unthinkable! I asked that one question that brought about the end of all reasoning… I asked, “Why not?”
Childhood memories and frustrations flooded back in when the Support Services representative gave me that look like I should know better and spoke these devastating words…”Because it’s best practice.”
Now, I know that there are evidenced based best practices in any industry, but I am in healthcare. To acknowledge that you might do anything that goes against best practice is like saying you want to kill people! That was it! I was finished!
Since then, I have done an exhaustive literary search to find the study that supports the assertion that the way that they mandated was indeed best practice for my specific situation. I have not found it yet. We have burned through 120 man hours to create the test environment needed to follow their “best practice” and have at least 30 hours more to complete the task. Conservatively, we are paying team members an average of $50 per hour for this project. That’s $7,500. Oh, and Mock Runs have been delayed for 3 weeks.
Don’t misunderstand, I am sure the end product will be great for the additional effort. Not only that, I have a new tool in my belt to avoid the necessity to logically convince people about future initiatives I embark upon. After all, I will only choose to pursue “Best Practice!”