Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Crowbar Just Opens the Crate...

In this blog, I have made a lot of the power of leverage, of the ability of the crowbar to use leverage to open the crate. It's an analogy that carries a lot of currency in an environment in which problems seem so large, so overwhelming, so difficult to get a handle on. Some of us welcome the simplicity of the humble crowbar that just pries the lid off of that crate.

Of course, getting the crate open is a big deal. Like thinking through the traffic jam to see the real problem, and like getting the right people to sit down to work out an agreement, getting the crate open is more than just a starting point - it's a prerequisite to progress. Until that crate is open, you just don't know what you're going to find inside, so you just don't know what the real problem is. That's the gift of the crowbar.

On the other hand, getting the crate open means seeing what's inside - seeing the problem for what it really is. If you were avoiding the problem, you may not see the crowbar as your friend. Because now (to mix metaphors) you're going to see that body bleeding on the table, and you're going to face that proverbial elephant in the middle of the room.

I can only speak for myself, but I know that I used to avoid that moment of truth -- until I learned the hard way that the problem didn't go away. Sooner or later, I was going to have to get out the more specific tools (say, hammer, wrench and screwdriver?) and start to attack the real problem that was hiding inside the crate.

Using those specific tools, though, is what we learned in school. They are the mathematical formulas to apply, the critical steps in the diagnosis, the analytical assessments that we have practiced, mastered, gotten certified in using. Now that we can see the problem, we can start using those familiar, precise tools and leveraging our subject matter expertise.

We don't need to overuse the crowbar. We just need it to get the crate open.

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