Step 3 – Wipe Hands on Pants

Ubiquitous useless hand dryerHi, I’m Mike DeWitt. If you’re a person living in a developing (or developed) country. You’ve probably been in a public restroom with a contraption similar to the one depicted in this picture. These devices are supposed to use hot air to dry your hands after you’ve washed them. The instructions go something like this:

Step 1: Push button

Step 2: Rub hands together vigorously until dry

It has become an inside joke among victims of such devices that there is a Step circusgold 3: For men: “Wipe hands on pants”, and for women: “Swing Hands in Air and Open Door With Elbow Until You Find Some Tissue” because the damned things DON’T WORK. In many restrooms, some altruistic lad has taken the time and effort to scratch Step 3 onto the machine with a knife or key. Well done, sir!

I bring up this quaint point of everyday life, because I believe that many management ploys are a precise analogy (although more expensive by several orders of magnitude) of these ineffectual-for-the-customer-and-employees-but-cheap-and-easy-for-management fads. The latter have the following steps:
Step One: Hire prominent and expensive consultant to convince the board and institutional investors that you seriously intend to remedy unsatisfactory financial results

Step Two: Implement consultant’s recommendations regardless of corporate culture or business context.

After this step, the consultant usually exits, stage left, amidst a management celebration of the success of the initiative. Some time later, as with the hand dryer, the hot air stops flowing but your hands are still wet (i.e., the original problem hasn’t gone away). Managers and employees are left to pick up the pieces, which leads to:

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Step Three: Figure out how to do it ourselves or go back to the old way of doing things.

That makes me mad. You know it’s wrong, and I know it’s wrong, and the person who made the decision knows it’s wrong. But in some contrived Management-by-Objective system, someone gets to put a check mark in a box and feel good about themselves. That doesn’t make it right.

And that’s why I like to expose those foibles. Most of the time they’re not willfully wicked; just misguided.

That’s my perspective. As for me, I live in Scottdale, Az with the woman of my dreams. We’ve been married for 25 years, and have five beautiful children together ranging in age from 22 to 12. That experience alone gives me great perspective on organizational management (from watching how my wife does it!).

I love hearing what you think about my views, so leave a comment and let’s start a conversation.

Photo by Crystl