Doing Things Half Right

Way back when during the Quality movement, there was a phrase called "dirty feet" which referred to DIRTFT or "Do It Right the First Time."

To do something right the first time meant that you had to think before acting, define the problem to be solved, gather relevant data, develop a plan, perhaps even run a pilot test and see what you could learn from it. All before actual implementation.

I think "dirty feet" made sense then, and still makes sense now.

However, in a intriguing little blog post, consultant Peter Bregman offers some thoughts about times when you might want to do something half right.

Bregman points out that many carefully planned large scale organizational changes fail when rolled out. Some organizational changes are so fully baked that the intended recipients choke on the results.

If you want the end user to embrace the change, Bregman suggests: release it half-baked. And engage the recipients in a conversation around how to make it work.

My wife, the Music Director at our church, would be appalled by this idea. She would hate it. I could imagine many others in project and change management roles feeling the same way. "Doing something half right" would be unprofessional.

But from an organization development point of view, Bregman is on to something that I would say is brilliant. All too often, we unwittingly over-engineer changes such as a new performance appraisal processes, thinking that we have created a thing of elegant beauty, only to discover that our audience is throwing up.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, February 4, 2009


Donald Clark said…
This reminds me of learning with graphics where it is often easier to engage the learners with a drawn picture rather than a picture taken with a camera. A drawn picture requires them to fill in some of the blanks, thus engaging them, whereas a full picture leaves little room for engagement.

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