Error Autopsy

The authors Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry talk about Error Autopsy in their book  The Method Method. The error autopsy and their MacGyver Award is a great way to improve your business’s customer service, leadership and collaboration. Below is an example from the book.

ERROR AUTOPSY: MACGYVER’S BETRAYALThe Method Method

Perhaps it was inevitable that a guiding principle intended to inspire ingenuity would ultimately become an excuse for cutting corners. But MacGyver taught us that living by your values isn’t always as clear as it sounds and can quickly turn into MacGruber, the Saturday Night Live parody. We started spotting the warning signs early on …

At every Monday’s weekly huddle, team members can nominate any colleague for a values award. In the beginning, praise poured in, the prize wheel pun, and all was well with the world. That is, until we noticed a growing pattern: Someone would get hung up on a project, pull an all-nighter, air-freight the finished product at the last possible second, and barely meet the deadline. “Success!” Afterward, everyone would let out a huge sigh of relief, and the next day the employee would be nominated for a MacGyver award! OK, but …

Examples like this were why What Would MacGyver Do? quickly became our  most common award. People would screw around, pull something out of their ass at the last minute, then sit back and bask in the limelight. As leaders, we had to help our team members to stop MacGyvering on the back end and start doing more work on the front end. MacGyver didn’t merely divert the enemy, defuse the bomb, and devise an escape route, all at the last second. He applied the same assiduous insight from the opening scene through the whole episode. Sure, maybe savvy TV producers made sure all the important plot twists were served up in the last two minutes, but MacGyver wasn’t asleep during the first fifty-eight.

The point is, just because your values are well intentioned doesn’t mean they can’t be manipulated or lead people astray. When that happens (and it will, trust us), it’s up to leadership to step in and set things straight.

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