When facing a challenge, many subordinates quickly complain about the lack of means and scarce resources. But what it takes to achieve an objective is more than just means.
The common complaints about means
Complaining about scarcity of means or resources is a convenient way to push the responsibility of the difficulty of the challenge and the possible failure to the boss, and often comes without any evidence for the resources really being scarce.
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Time allocated to achieve something can be considered as a means. If the management gives no time or too few time for some tasks but expect a result nevertheless, the complaint about not having enough time can be legit.
This is the case with daily machines cleaning (Autonomous Maintenance) after the shift is over, allocating some time to stop production and clean, lubricate and visually inspect the machines for the sake of failure prevention. But if production is late and management orders to work till the very last minute, there is no time left for the daily basic maintenance. If this is repeating over and over, the machines’ condition may decline and a serious failure stop them for a longer period.
Some means are absolute prerequisites to achieve the objective and if they are not granted, the objective may be out of reach, despite the alternative or creative ways people try.
Means are also often confused with method or a process, and people complaining about insufficient means are in reality worrying about how to proceed. Having the appropriate means is then synonymous to knowing how to do, with the hope that this or that tool, machine, equipment, etc. will bring the solution with it.
The triple prerequisite to achieve an objective
Besides appropriate means, the method or way to proceed is another prerequisite. If you get all the parts necessary to assemble a computer but have no idea how to assemble them, you have all the necessary means but are still unable to have a working computer. Therefore, the second prerequisite, besides means, is method or know-how or knowledge, procedure, instructions, etc.
There is a third prerequisite to achieve an objective: motivation. If you have all necessary means and have necessary know-how and skills but no motivation (or will, desire), the objective will not be achieved.
The triple requirement for achieving an objective is to have appropriate Means, Method and Motivation, which can be memorized as 3Ms.
Now when assigning tasks or objectives to teams, managers better make sure the means are provided, the know-how or skills are available and check the motivation.
This post was inspired by an explanation of my friend and mentor Bill Dettmer during a Logical Thinking Process training course. You may listen and watch Bill’s explanation in the video beneath. To understand the context you may read my post Goal Tree Chronicles – Enablers vs.triggers.