Beware of holes in your organization

Managers at all levels can run into many roadblocks. To attain the goals of the organization, managers must overcome obstacles. However, they often swipe at shadows and do not clear the root causes that burden their organizations. Problems are often dealt with by addressing the consequences of issues instead of the issues. These “workarounds” do not last because they allow the root causes to remain “in play”—further harming the organization.

Sometimes, management’s workday can seem like that game where a child hits a peg with a mallet only to have another peg pop up elsewhere on the board—never making any progress. Problems snowball out-of-control and managers become frustrated and perhaps even apathetic. They reach the point where putting a finger in a hole in the dike is considered a successful solution, even though the dike is cracking elsewhere.

No one has the time, resources or perhaps knowledge to search for, identify and then terminate root causes of problems. Organizations ends up creating big holes while wrapping those under a thin layer of workarounds. These holes can drag organizations down or can impede their rise. Even if an organization is prospering, it might not be prospering to the degree it could be if it is afflicted with more holes.

Topic of "rules of holes" is started by Thomas Cagley on twitter by sharing first rule of holes. Mike Hesketh made a significant contribution by sharing more rules. This is an important topic, hence, I thought of blending serious topic with some humor. Thanks Thomas and Mike. Your feedback is welcomed!

Here is a list of rules of holes we came up with. I am sure these are not new and many other may have written about these. I hope you will find these helpful.

  1. If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. When you dig a deep enough hole, it may become your own grave, hence, never refill hole while you are still in it!
  2. Holes Happen! They can appear out of nowhere, full blown. One minute they're not there and the next thing you're in one, like when a coder check-in bad code and goes on vacation, or when your lab encounters unplanned outage. A wise person always carries a ladder.
  3. Holes only go down. Holes that go up are called piles. The higher the pile you shovel, the more likely it is to fall on your head someday.
  4. Bottomless holes are called pits, as in endlessly throwing good money into one.
  5. People seem to love to build replacement holes. After they manage to climb out of addiction holes (code but test only in the end), bad relationship holes (political alliances) etc, they often dig themselves into another one just like it.

  1. Holes are only vertical. Horizontal holes are called tunnels which may lead to the light at the end of the tunnel.
  2. If you fall down in a hole you tend to look out for the next one.
  3. When you see someone in a hole, help them out; don't gloat.
  4. Sometimes holes can be your friend; for instance in a storm. But it's important to know what kind of storm is coming. In a tornado, holes are good; they are not so good in a flood. Use holes as an opportunity to take your organization to the next level of success.

In a nutshell, holes are part of life. You can't avoid those. Beware of  holes so that you can reduce chances of falling in those. Even if you fall down, you must carry a ladder to take you out. Don't just look for "workarounds". Identify "root causes" so that you can make organization a better place to work. Good Luck!
    Reference: Black Holes and Management By Ron Lutka
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