When problems occur in organizations, all too often, as opposed to creating a balance solution managers overreact with their fix, which is more than needed in its scope and impact. I call this the pendulum affect. It occurs when we provide an extreme solution to a problem when a more modest solution would work.

Simply put with the pendulum too far to the right we are prone to failure and when that occurs there is the temptation swing too it far to the left with a fix that is too extreme, because, so help us, we are going to make sure this never happens again. With this approach we can introduce unnecessary cost, inefficiencies and bad will. Ideally we need a balance solution where the pendulum is centered, just the right level of control is introduced to ensure our error is not repeated. Don’t let the pendulum swing too far in the one direction or the other with an extreme or weak solution.

A real life example occurred in a company where it was discovered that one or two of about 15 sales representatives had not been where they had reported they had worked. Solution: GPS tracking added to every phone for every sales person. From that point forward the sales reports and GPS tracking device matched perfectly. Result, 50% of the very best sales people left the company; they felt they were not trusted and were being overly scrutinized and they didn’t have to put up with that working for the company’s competitors. Consequently morale went down and sales went down which eventually led, with the help of several other pendulum extreme policies, to the company going out of business.

The moral of this example is when things break provide the right level of fix, no extremes and I promise you things will go better.

September 7, 2014 @ 12:00 amby:  Michael Bull