Working Wounded Blog: Breaking Rules to Get Things Done

News Flash: "In the French Quarter, Addie Hall and Zackery Bowen found an unusual way to make sure that police officers regularly patrolled their house. Hall, 28, a bartender, flashed her breasts at the police vehicles that passed by, ensuring a regular flow of traffic." (From The New York Times.)

I'm a fan of New Orleans. And let's face it, if you had gone through the hell of Hurricane Katrina, would you be able to draw on years of experience at Mardi Gras to get the police attention you needed? Hall, like so many residents of the Big Easy, has the most creative problem-solving skills I've ever seen.

Hall also reminds us that there are the ways that things are supposed to get done and the ways that they actually get done. I'm not suggesting that flashing is a career-enhancing move for most of us. But there are times at work, and in life, where creativity and bold action are not only called for, they're a requirement.

This reminds me of a story that I heard as a graduate business student. Our professor told us that he wanted to talk to people who actually implemented programs in corporations. So he arranged a meeting with no consultants, authors or other hangers-on. He only allowed corporate doers in the room. He asked them to tell success stories and he marveled at how the techniques for getting things done in the real world had little resemblance to what was being taught in MBA programs.

For example, there was the change agent who tried to get his program implemented for years with no success. He'd long since given up. Then one day he was having lunch with his friend, the company speechwriter. The topic of his failed program came up. He told the sad story of defeat after defeat on the corporate battlefield. Cut to the chief executive officer two weeks later announcing his latest initiative, the change agent's program. One conversation with the speechwriter breathed more life into his program than years of banging his head against the corporate hierarchy.

For every rule of how things should get done in organizations there are often at least two exceptions. That's why it's so important to get to know the network of doers in your organization. They're in there, but chances are that they're operating beneath the radar. So you're going to have to go looking for them. Once you get their confidence, they'll have many stories that will both surprise you and teach you new ways to get from point A to point B within your organization.

In closing, I'd be remiss if I didn't remind you of the importance of doing what you can for the people who have been displaced by the hurricane. America is at its best when we are all working together. So find your own personal way to flash them some money, some support and some love. If you're like me, New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast have provided us many great memories through the years. Now it's our turn to return the favor.

Quote of the week:
"Anyone who says businessmen deal in facts, not fiction, has never read five-year projections." -- Malcolm Forbes

Weekly book excerpt:
From "What Color Is Your Parachute" by Richard Bolles (10 Speed, 2005)

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