Some time back I watched a re-run of the Oscar ceremony on TV- the annual Hollywood love in. What’s not to like here? Zero wrinkles. Witty introductions. Tension as those envelopes are ripped. Tears in the audience as the winners perform over-the-top acceptance speeches: “I would especially like to mention my personal trainer, Fabio, who has been an inspiration and shown both me and my Rhodesian Ridgeback – Rolex – that there are no limits to what you can achieve. Fabio, from the bottom of my heart I want everyone to know, you’ve made me what I am.”
Irish Elections: The Irish version of this are the elections. A huge number of election anoraks will be out in force to see who Gay Mitchell’s transfers go to in the Presidential race. People love it, the drama, the intrigue, the maths. Yet, despite the fact that we rely on computers to guide airplanes and run life saving medical equipment, we can’t find a machine to do a few simple electoral calculations.
No Technology: Forget the arguments around electoral fraud. The fact that we still vote manually has nothing to do with technology. People become married to the way things are rather than the way they could be. Managerially we have to be able to differentiate between traditions that are positive and add value and practices which are simply inefficient, accepted because ‘that’s the way it was always done’.
IDA Pitch: The IDA touts the fact that Ireland is one of the top countries worldwide for the development of software; we certainly have all of the heavy hitters in situ. Yet we can’t come up with voting machines to simplify the job for us? In the battle between tradition and efficiency, the traditional argument often wins. It’s not that we can’t, it’s that we don’t want to.
So What? Look around your own organization. Are there parallels? What practices are based on tradition rather than efficiency? Are you leaving things ‘as is’ because change is hard – and hard work only pays off in the future? (laziness pays off now). Take the challenge posed by Suzan Lyne (Chairman of Gilt Groupe) who asked: “Are you drawn to where the heat is?” Because that’s what we’re paid to do.
PS Kids joke of the week.
Q: Why did you call your dog Rolex?
A: Because he’s a watchdog!