273: Designed To Play

The Red-Tape Blame-Game

I handed over thousands of dollars to a major US corporation over a period of four years. One would think that we had built up a respectful mutually beneficial relationship: You scratch my back (provide the service) and I’ll scratch yours (contribute to your bottom line).

One would think. But one would be wrong. When circumstances beyond my control meant that I had to end the relationship, they showed me just how much they valued our relationship. They sent me a final bill… wait for it… for $0.28. In the mail. (Current USA postage rates are at or near $0.60. Excluding cost of paper and envelope. Go figure.)

I plan never to do business with them again. Obviously, their “our customers matter to us” was a fake promise. But whose fault was it, really?

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Designed To Play the Red-Tape Blame-Game

When trust breaks down, we play the red-tape blame-game. Because when trust breaks down, relationships become strained and people fall back on rules and regulations, policies and procedures.

This insane behavior is actually encouraged by poor organization design. Most structures promote trust in systems and procedures above trust in people and relationships.

Many leaders and even a few managers will dispute this. They will insist that they trust their colleagues and employees to do the right thing. I say, look to your actions. Too often there is a disconnect between what you say and what you expect. And then how you behave and what you do negates what you said.

Here’s what you can do to create a more effective organization. Reward people who deliver on promises by including them in discussions, planning and decision-making.

And visibly exclude people who habitually over promise and under deliver.

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Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.

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