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Friday, June 22, 2012

CANCER in the Workplace

Cancer has been on the brain lately as my dad was admitted to the hospital on Fathers Day with MSSA. While he is heading home today with a four week regiment of antibiotics to kill the infection, if he didn't have cancer in the first place this infection would not have been in his system. The source of the infection was the port they placed under his skin to easily access his bloodstream to to feed his system the lovely poison called chemotherapy. How many times do we feed poison to the problems we have in the organization unknowingly? Probably, more times than we care go admit.

So how in the world does this story remotely relate to the workplace? Well, if you think about his body as the workplace and the problems as the CANCER, I hope you can follow my analogies. Workplace Problem's all have some sort of source wether it be the systems, people, inputs, outputs, procedures, etc. The symptoms like his where he was not eating and could not get up on his own are the way the cancer communicates there is a problem. For example, when you hear there is a quality issue with a product or service where you know what the problem id but don't know how it happened an investigation occurs to identify the source. During the process of the investigation learning must and does occur. The problem is if you stop too short the infection my reappear.

I recall a book I read while getting my masters degree called "Learning Organizations" by Peter Senge. He said if you have a problem you really have to ask the question at least five times to get down to the real root of the problem.

The medical doctors have continually completed this learning process over and over during the past three and a half years since he was originally diagnosed and really beforehand. In this case they noticed the swelling and redness under the skin around the port. They removed it and did a culture which proved that this was one sourced. However, because they had past experience with sourcing they knew they also had to do an Echo to ensure the infection was not coming from the heart. Sometimes in organizations the problems come from various departments, buildings, locations, etc.

The point is just like medicine organizations must be diligent in working to identify the symptoms and source in addition to the cancer itself. The best thing to do is find a cure to get rid of the cancer all together. However, when a 100% 24/7 cure is not possible

Mangement must realize that every incidence of Cancer outbreaks must be taken seriously and aggressively so as not to allow it to metastasize to the rest of the organization.