This week’s focus: When you have leaking pipes in your home, there are a couple of things you can do about it. First, you could call out a plumber to fix the leak, or, second, you could simply place a bucket under the leak, collect the water and empty it every so often.


The first option is corrective action; it removes the problem. The second option is adaptive action; in essence you find ways to live with the problem. This option may be cheaper in the short term, but over the longer term is almost bound to be costlier in terms of time and effort.


I’m currently working with a client that is struggling as a result of a focus on adaptive, rather than corrective actions. As it has developed and introduced new systems, its operating teams have struggled to understand and manage the change in processes and procedures.


As a result, managers have decided that the operation of certain applications should be done by a single expert. This has cut down the number of input errors, but has meant that input clerk is overburdened.


A huge backlog of work has built up, which means that is now taking weeks, rather than hours, for the business teams to set up new suppliers and launch new products. It may have seemed an easier decision at the time, but it has led to ongoing costs.


The corrective action for this issue is, instead, to train the business teams so that they can manage the process themselves. Until this happens, the bucket of one, two or more ‘experts’ will continue to hold back the company’s operational performance.


Where are you metaphorically reaching for your buckets and implementing adaptive actions, when you know should really be fixing the problem at source?


Off The Record: Fixing A Hole by The Beatles


I’m fixing a hole where the rain gets in

And stops my mind from wandering

Where it will go


© Stuart Cross 2019. All rights reserved.