Friday, June 2, 2017

leadership dot #1827: the error

I hope you enjoyed the brief interlude with guest authors. I'm back today, ready to celebrate the 5-year anniversary of leadership dots!
I recently watched the TEDx talk by Molly Tierney about rethinking the foster care system. Even if child welfare isn't your area of interest, her talk is worth the 10 minutes to think about the parallels with your own line of work.
Tierney became director of an agency and spent several years improving the results. Her department won awards and became a national model. "We became a well oiled machine..." she said. "I regret that this success has not also resulted in us actually helping people." Instead Tierney argues that the reason child welfare isn't working is because there are children in foster care. "It's not that the government is doing it badly; it's that foster care is a bad idea. The error is the intervention."
Think about your organization. Are you doing something that feels good to you and that you may even be successful at doing, but if you really admitted it, is the wrong thing to do.  Colleges are offering remedial classes to students who should not be there, rather than not admitting them, or graduating those students even though they don't have the skills to be productive citizens. Banks are offering special mortgage packages to allow people to buy homes well beyond their price ranges instead of showing them ways to improve their long term finances. Doctors are providing treatments to people instead of helping them stay well.
Tierney cautioned against "mistaking something that feels good to us for something that is actually helping other people." Use her talk as a litmus test for your organization and ask yourself if you are truly working on the right thing.

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