Monday, August 8, 2011

The Stinky Stuff Rolls Every Which Way

One of the commonly repeated phrases if you're operating on the front lines in any business is "the **it rolls down hill". It's a comforting thing to say and true enough in many ways. To be blunt, it also represents a  short sighted and overly simplistic world view.

Now that I've said that I better explain myself.

I've spent time both in the trenches and as a manager so I've been on both sides of the fence and based on those experiences I know that the grass isn't greener on either side. Some combination of personal preference, aptitude and random chance are going to decide which role a person ends up in. If' you're an individual contributor by choice or chance know this, the stinky stuff rolls in pretty much every direction.

To get to the individual contributor level it often has to flow past front line management and it probably went through one or more levels of management before it got to them but that's not the only direction it comes from.

When an individual contributor fails to complete a task in a timely manner it rolls every which way since at the very least their coworkers and immediate manager will have to deal with the consequences of that failure. Dysfunction at ANY level leads to some amount of dysfunction at EVERY level.

I could belabor this point for a few hundred more words but suffice it to say that there are people who primarily produce it and people who primarily deal with it. Being located higher in the food chain means a larger multiplier for either case but being on the front lines does not magically exempt one from appearing on either side of this equation.

Image by Darrow Slade Godeski Merton via Flickr
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