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Don't be a fool! Instead, don't FOOL around. Make progress faster and gain better results.

Organizational drag is a term used to describe the cumulative effect of “needless internal interactions, unproductive or inconsequential meetings, and unnecessary e-communications”. It is a collection of institutional factors that interfere with productivity yet somehow go unaddressed. Organizational drag wastes time and saps the energy of the workforce. It refers to all the practices, procedures, and structures that waste time and limit output.

I suspect all of us can relate to having to deal with people and processes that slow down our progress. Organizational drag creates issues and delays progress frequently and persistently. So why is that so, and what can we do about it?

First, not all people and certainly not all processes are bad. There have to be checks and balances to protect the organization. Not everything you want to do is safe, practical, or prudent. But on the other hand, not every policy or procedure is needed or effective. Our role as leaders is to remove organizational drag and to be a catalyst for positive change. My model for adopting that approach is:





Focus means to emphasize what is important or concentrate attention on particular activities. We all deal with information overload and continuous distractions. We have work to do. We have people asking us for decisions, information, participation, answers, and so much more. We have to be intentional, and we have to be purposeful.

Optimizing means making the best of most effective use of resources, opportunities, or situations to improve efficiency, throughput, and results.

Lift is an upward-acting force on an aircraft wing that directly opposes the weight of the airplane and holds the airplane in the air. Lift overcomes drag, friction, inertia, and ultimately overcomes gravity.

As leaders, we should be helping progress activities and projects all around us. We should be empowering and enabling our team. We should be helping to advance other teams around us. We should be intentional to avoid slowing work down and instead focus on how we can reduce delays, get things off the ground, and avoid asking unnecessary questions. That doesn't mean blindly rubber stamping everything we see. But it does mean avoiding being the reason things have to wait unnecessarily.

Is the request reasonable? Are the funds and resources to do the work available? Will delaying the work materially improve the outcome? How can we keep things progressing? How can we help remove barriers and obstacles? Are you advancing the cause or slowing things down? Focus on Optimizing Lift! Get the plane off the ground!

Focus on the solution - not the problem. -- Jim Rohn

Sub-optimization is when everyone is for himself. Optimization is when everyone is working to help the company. -- W. Edward Deming

Strong people don't put others down... They lift them up. -- Michael P. Watson

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Great article Mike. Could you do an article on how to address the folks that are not rowing but drilling holes in your boat? Part of the challenge is "Strong people don't put others down... They lift them up." which is something that you have always been great at doing.

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Jeff - thanks for the feedback. I will write something on this topic in the coming weeks.

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