Aug 032012

My daughter Alicia is 2.5 years old. Recently I started teaching her how to cross the street. We live in a village where it‘s generally very safe. But whenever we came to a crossing, I stopped her and showed her what to do, saying „Look left, look right, look left! No car is coming, so let‘s walk across the street!“.

She picked that up quickly. She now stops on her own, and then looks down on her little feet in concentration and speaks out loud: „Left! Right! Left!“. She doesn‘t look for cars, she just says the words. She‘s compliant with the most obvious features of the process I taught her – and yet totally misses the point.

Now I tried something new. I ask her: „Is a car coming?“. If one can only hear a car somewhere in the distance, far from being a threat, she shouts: „Yes! Wait!“

Teaching her how to identify a car which is actually coming closer may be something for later. But leading her to judge a situation on her own is obviously more effective than making her following procedures she doesn’t put into context.

Something we should consider when managing our organizations?