People Are Not Logical

Ok, some people are logical. I’m logical. Very logical. If you want to get X done and you need help with planning, I’m on it. I’ll lay out all the steps and sub-steps required; I’ll make sure that critical path item A gets done before dependet item B begins, and that non-critical path and non- interdependent items C and D start and end at the earliest possible time and are done in the most efficient manner. I’ll oversee every step between A and X such that the project will be done on time and under budget. Gua-ran-teeeed!

I’m a planner, a thinker, a detail person. However I am not a big picture thinker. I get mired in the details and if you suddenly decide that you don’t want X anymore but what you really want is X prime, I will probably have a total meltdown; odds are good that I will cry right in front of you. The last time Hubby wanted to significantly change our plans at the last minute, I actually told him that I needed time to come to terms with what he was asking and that I was incapable of making any decisions in the moment. We weren’t talking about whether or not to get married here – Hubby normally cooks, but one day he asked me at the last minute if I could cook supper so he could head out early to meet some friends. I was already running late that particular day, and I hate to cook every day, and suddenly it just seemed like the world was coming to an end. I. Could. Not. Deal. Big picture people would probably have taken his request in stride. I had to take a few minutes to wrap my head around the new world order before I could move on with my day. (For the record, I did cook dinner.)

But even though a big picture person would have easily dealt with Hubby’s request, they aren’t all that and a bag of chips either. In my experience big picture people are not very logical. I once had an employee who was a big picture thinker, and he drove me crazy. (I’m sure I drove him crazy too but I was the boss, so…pooh pooh for him.) He had a great idea, a fantastic idea, a BIG IDEA, and I hired him to implement it. But he could not do it. I asked him to lay out all the steps it would take to get it done, and he just couldn’t figure it out. I ended up doing a lot of the planning and detail work, which I wasn’t supposed to be doing, and he did a lot of…. I don’t know what. He was good at schmoozing and did help to get buy-in to the BIG IDEA, but because he didn’t contribute at all to getting any of the nitty-gritty detail work done, the project was excessively late and ended up dying a slow, painful death.

That experience made me realize that there are BIG IDEA people and there are get-it-done people, and you need to know which type you are, and which type you need at any particular moment in a project’s life. Your project probably won’t get very far without any get-it-done people, and without any BIG IDEA people in your organization there will be no projects for the get-it-done people to attack.

Unless you work in government, that is. Only putting-in-the-minimum-required-until-I-get-to-retirement [-and-my-pension] people should ever go for a job in government. BIG IDEA people who work in government will be shunned; no government manager wants the hassle of implementing a BIG IDEA, and get-it-done people, no matter how logical and organized, will die a slow death as they are strangled by red tape. It’s a proven fact that no government project, no matter how worthy, has ever gone from idea to implementation unscathed.

I bet there are hundreds of management gurus out there who have written about all of this way more succinctly and eloquently than I just did.

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