Since I came across the quote of Fujio Cho* (Toyota chairman) about broken processes requiring extraordinary people, I keep wondering how many of the businesses I see are relying on superheroes. Superheroes are wonderwomen and supermen, those skilled and highly dedicated people who run processes or whole businesses ordinary people would not be able or willing to run.
*”We get brilliant results from average people managing brilliant processes. We observe that our competition often gets average (or worse) results from brilliant people managing broken processes.”
They cope with situations others would just not start trying or give up quickly, because of broken processes, poor working conditions, work load or any combination of the like.
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Instead of fixing the processes or improving work conditions, so that they can be run by ordinary people, business owners or management invest tremendous efforts in recruiting superheroes.
Here are at least three reasons they should not.
1. Superheroes come in limited number
Superheroes aren’t common, otherwise they’d be ordinary people, not superheroes.
Hence finding the good fit takes time, costs money and efforts.
The same resources (time, money, efforts) could be allocated to fix the processes in order to be run by ordinary people.
For some strange reasons, management keeps searching for superheroes.
2. Superheroes get tired too
Sooner or later playing superheroes will exhaust them, or they get bored when the initial fun has gone.
Superheroes are aging as well, they may aspire to something else than running rubbish processes over time.
Because of 1 & 2, even with some longer lasting heroes coping with the mess, the organization will always be at least one short.
3. Superheroes have ambition or personal goals
a. Superheroes are likely to get promoted.
They are usually noticed and appreciated and their skills find many other applications elsewhere in or outside of the organization.
The trouble is once promoted, who will take care of the processes still in their same poor state?
b. Superheroes may leave the organization for personal reasons, getting married, change their career path, raise a family…
When Superheroes leave the organization, for any reason, they leave the broken processes.
Therefore and again, investing in fixing processes is more sustainable.
But for some strange reasons, management keeps searching for superheroes.