Watching the Bee-Watcher

dr-seuss-art_denise-krebsVested Rule #5 tells us that our contract or business framework should embrace an Insight vs Oversight Governance Structure. Unfortunately, many organization believe that to be in control, they need to be controlling. The result? Micromanagement of your employees and suppliers!

Micromanagement stems from a lack of trust and poor governance structures. If you trust your supplier (or anyone!) and have the right controls in place, you should not be tempted to be controlling and a micromanager.

In Dr. Seuss’s 1973 book, Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?  he pokes fun at people that are unlucky. My favorite example shows how unlucky it would be to have a job where you are micromanaged – he profiles a bee-watcher in the town of Hawtch-Hawtch. The bee watcher’s job, Dr. Seuss says, “Is to keep both his eyes on the lazy town bee, a bee that is watched will work harder you see. So he watched and he watched, but in spite of his watch that bee didn’t work any harder not mawtch. So then somebody said, ‘Our old bee-watching man just isn’t bee watching as hard as he can, he ought to be watched by another Hawtch-Hawtcher! The thing that we need is a bee-watcher-watcher!’ Well, the bee-watcher-watcher watched the bee-watcher. He didn’t watch well so another Hawtch-Hawtcher had to come in as a watch-watcher-watcher! And now all the Hawtchers who live in Hawtch-Hawtch are watching on watch watcher watchering watch, watch watching the watcher who’s watching that bee.”

He goes on to conclude “You’re not a Hawtch-Watcher you’re lucky you see!”

Kind of silly, yes, but there’s a serious management lesson for grownups (in addition to children) there, particularly in our governance frameworks, which can become too inflexible and have too many metrics (bee-watchers) that don’t really tell us much about what is actually happening. Often the bee (or business system) will not function more efficiently no matter how many metrics (watchers) are involved. Too many people standing around with spreadsheets aren’t useful and probably won’t produce the desired outcome.

The moral of the story?

! In fact, it makes things worse. The next time you think you need to be controlling, step back and ask yourself how you can create the right metrics and governance to be in control without being controlling.

and have to look over your shoulder all the time!

Image: Dr. Seuss Art by Denise Krebs via Flickr CC

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