You get what you’re built to get. More often than not, whatever you produce is what you are designed to produce. Look at the diagram below. If your goal is to make red bowling balls and you spit out blue pillows then, at some point, there is a goal/product disconnect. If you are consistently getting blue pillows, that’s probably what you are designed to get.
It’s funny how many times we are surprised by our product. Whether in manufacturing, relationships, or _______________ (fill in your own process), we often believe we are set for one outcome and get something completely different. Here are a couple of examples that don’t include pillows: I start a conversation with my wife over something that I believe to be inconsequential and it ends up in hurt feelings and misunderstanding. OR, I think I’m really on the ball with a great system of calendar and task discipline; yet, I am consistently a day late and a dollar short. OR, I think I am a world-class communicator but members of my team often feel in the dark or surprised by my actions.
These are all instances of getting what you are designed to get. The determining factor about the success of your machine, system, or communication skills is not your intention but your product. Everyone messes up and anomalies happen. I’m talking about the norm, the usual, the more-often-than-not. If you find that your goal looks radically different than what rolls off the assembly line then, to borrow a phrase–“Houston, we have a problem.”
The disconnect can come at any point: 1. poor understanding of the goal, 2. incomplete or incorrect tools and resources, 3. neglected machinery, 4. broken/inadequate machinery, or 5. just plain wrong machinery. Without really good assessment at every point, you may be trying to fix something that isn’t broken or repairing things that were never designed to get what you were after. Most attempts at solutions without the assessment result in symptomatic relief at best and failure at worst. Insanity truly is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
The scope of this article is not to provide a meticulous breakdown of the items numbered above; it is to bring into focus the need to assess, change, and do things differently as needed. The keys are self-awareness and assessment. Our tendency is to ignore reality and to allow inertia to carry us on our merry way. The easiest thing is to believe our “normal” product is a one-time thing and let it go. It’s hard work to do the kinds of reflections and “re-tooling” necessary for our goals and product to be one and the same.