Sunday, April 21, 2013

Don't lower your standards

Crowds have low standards.

Crowds are crazy. They tend to take normal, smart adults and drive them into a frenzy. I visited Michigan State University after a crowd had formed over the basketball teams loss that year, and I saw the scorch marks where police cars had been set on fire.

Insane. And yet when you talk to those people individually, they wouldn't dream of doing something like that alone.

The crux here is accountability. Once you hold people accountable, once you show that they can't fade into the darkness, they will behave normally. Police officers break up crowds (physically) into smaller and smaller pieces, because it is only when a crowd is big that normal people feel they can get away with violence.

We see this on a lesser scale at work though:

- People love to complain about "the system," but no one wants to do anything to actually fix it.
- People love to talk about their great ideas, but few will put them on paper and route them up.
- People love to complain that our FITREP/EVAL rankings make no sense, without offering a real framework for fixing it.

Complainers are useless. They rely on the lack of accountability to be able to sit back and whine the entire time.

Try something new tomorrow. When someone complains about a process, tell them to write down how to fix it and email it to you. I doubt you'll get a lot of emails, but you'll likely spend less time listening to complainers that don't want to expend the effort to do real work.