February 27, 2020

For the want of a nail

We like to blame disasters on the failure of equipment – the horseshoe nail, the cladding, the electrical wiring.   Or we like to blame people – the farrier, the cladding manufacturer, the maintenance department.

But neither of those things are really to blame when things go disastrously wrong.   It’s the processes that have failed, and often much further back than the site of the problem.    The rider didn’t check his horse’s shoes (or maybe the farrier ran out?), the specifier chose inappropriate cladding (or maybe the budget was too low?), management reduced the capacity of the maintenance department (or maybe the maintenance team had caught coronavirus?).

It’s what we do – the processes we run – that delivers results, good or bad.  If we want to minimise the bad and maximise the good, we all need to see them clearly and take responsibility for keeping the whole in good working order.