Moving Your Problem to Someone Else

Last year I was in a number of meetings and circumstances where someone moved their issue to someone else.

One of our clients put it well when he said,"we can not make our problem their problem".  The situation goes like this…

  • One group is running late.  They tell the next group that things are fine and they will have everything perfect and on time.  So when they run late or the output is not correct the next group has to deal with it – more time, working weekends, etc.
  • We need a window in production to do an activity.  For every minute production is down, it causes issues for users in production.  So why does someone think that it is ok to expect the business to stop running for 12-18 hours over and over again.

This was just a couple as I do not want to highlight any real ones (to protect the innocent).  But why is it that as we work on something we do not hesitate to make an issue someone elses without their involvement.

  1. Jim Reply

    You blog reminds me of mechanism mentioned by Senge in the Fifth Discipline called “Shifting The Burden.” I have seen it so often in organizations where somebody else is blamed or the decision is passed to some one else.
    Often one group will blame another for not being able to deliver on something or will not make the decision.
    I recall one of the cardinal rules in the civil service was never admit you made a mistake. The trick was to shift the burden. Make you mistake or inability some one elses problem.
    Managers who accepts these excuses deserve what they get.
    I recall working on the formulation of a Service Level Agreement (SLA) and trying to get people to commit to acceptable levels of service or what they could deliver. The dance was quite incredible. Eventually I just had to push it through and waited for people to object. It worked, I think.
    Of course, measurement of SLA’s is the same game. Somebody else’s problem.

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