Doing the Wrong Things Right (part 1)

“[I know of] employees who plan ahead to sit next to their CEO on a five-hour flight to bend his or her ear, thinking it will boost their career.  Don’t do it! Again, it’s an example of doing the wrong things right, which will only harm your career.” — Jeffrey Fox

The phrase “doing the wrong things right” came up in in my phone interview with best selling business author Jeffrey Fox for an article available on this blog.  And if I recall our conversation correctly, someone really did do the ‘annoy the CEO for five hours on a plane’ tactic, thinking it would help their career. It didn’t.

Right or Wrong, Well or Poorly - by EffectiveCIO.comI googled “doing the wrong things right” awhile back and found a very relevant article Right or Wrong? Well or Poorly? by Chuck Musciano. (One quibble: for Chuck’s chart (see left) accompanying his blog post, it is the “doing the wrong things right” quadrant that should be red; doing the wrong things with relentless speed and efficiency is the worst of all possible worlds!)

From Chuck Musciano’s post:

Doing the wrong things right is often known as “paving cowpaths.”  Some awful business processes are so entrenched that they cannot be rooted out.  Discretion being the better part of valor, we choose to automate bad processes, throwing good technology at a bad system.

Agree!  But how do such awful business processes come into being in the first place?  I suggest those ‘cowpaths to hell’ were paved with good but badly misguided intentions, using misguided information.

I think the key cause to “doing the wrong things right” from both a leadership and business intelligence (BI perspective is clearly traceable back to “measuring the wrong things right.”

For example, consider an an article by business performance management expert Craig Schiff, advocating for employee incentive pay based on performance:

The holy grail of business performance management (BPM) is to compensate people based on their achievement of corporate, departmental, and individual goals and objectives. While BPM is good at measuring progress against objectives, it is of little value if it doesn’t change people’s behavior, which in turn should help improve the bottom line. Incentive compensation based on what is being measured by the BPM system is a way to do that.

It is true that setting incentives will change employee behavior, but unfortunately not as often for the better as one might imagine.  I have major concerns with the concept of widespread, heavily incentive-driven compensation based on the certain data measures tracked by a BPM/BI solution…

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