The other day, as I headed into our conference room for an early morning month-end meeting, I noticed a small piece of white paper wedged under the room's main doorstop. Curious, I extracted the paper, causing the door to swing shut. Just as it was about to close, a colleague from the adjacent workspace rushed to reopen it and promptly slid the paper back under the doorstop.
Intrigued, I inquired about this peculiar ritual, and my colleague explained that they were ensuring proper ventilation in the conference room. According to them, it was essential to keep the door ajar by placing the paper under the doorstop. While we discussed this, the door started to inch slowly toward closure. Before it could seal shut, another team member deftly intervened, inserting a small metal chair between the door and the wall to prevent it from closing completely.
When I asked the second person why she did this, she mentioned that she had seen the doorstop fail despite the piece of paper in the last couple of days. Each time this happened, her solution of keeping the door open with the chair was more novel. However, to her bewilderment, someone kept moving the chair from by the door to the conference room table.
Rather than reporting this issue to facility management, both team members were convinced that their solution, although temporary and more expensive in terms of the hours spent (as each time someone wanted to close the door, they would remove the piece of paper, and similarly, each time someone wanted to sit at the conference room table, they would move the chair from the door to the table), was the right one.
I immediately had them call facility management, and the doorstop was fixed in less than 15 minutes!
This incident at our workplace is not uncommon. As managers and team members, it's vital to distinguish between value-added activities and those that are not. In this case, the two team members mistakenly assumed that their actions were adding value. They succumbed to the allure of a temporary fix, incorrectly believing they had solved the problem when, in reality, they had merely postponed it.
I hope this brief account prompts you and your organization to reevaluate your daily workplace activities in a new light and helps us prioritize true value addition over temporary solutions. Together, we can all Shoot to the Top!