Axioms: The Plumber’s Rule

17 Aug

Recently I have been working in a company that is interested in improving its performance and thus it’s management practices.  After hearing stories about poor management practices in a particular silo, I have commented on the Plumber’s Rule nature of the stories.  No one in the interviews had heard of the rule, this is very unusual.

One basic understanding about organizations is they are hierarchical.  This is because no one has found a better way to assign responsibility and authority.  Unfortunately some are too hierarchical.  One example of this is micro-management, a practice that encourages people to optimize their situation by obeying rules and passing as much responsibility upward as is possible.  This is a productivity killer.

Another general principle is leadership drives the culture of the organization, what happens at the top flows down into the organization.  When managerial performance is poor this is the Plumber’s Rule, “In organizations fecal matter flows downhill.”

Understand this fundamental idea.  When someone or some unit is not working well look up one or two layers.  Odds are that is the locus of the problem is there or as the Q people say, the root cause.

For an excellent example of this principle go to: The manager from Hades.

Beyond Luck is now an e-book on Amazon.  At $6.95 it’s a great deal.


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