There’s a winding, two-lane highway in Quebec that has a telephone/electrical pole standing in the middle. This isn’t a joke. I’ve inserted a photo from a reputable news source below to show you that this really exists.
How did this happen? Apparently, a road crew was sent to pave the road and they worked around the pole, rather than coordinating with a crew from the electrical company to remove the pole first. You can read about this here and here.
We can all breathe more easily, however, because:
“The pole has not caused any harm, so far…the problem will be fixed by the end of the month”
Well that’s a relief.
It seems very unlikely that no one on the road crew mentioned paving around the pole might be a bad idea. At the very least, I would expect that the person operating the heavy equipment that flattens the asphalt to say “paving this stretch of road would be a lot easier if this pole weren’t in my way.”
This is the type of thing that happens in organizations that are either deaf to the input of workers, or have a culture where people are scared to speak up.
I’m certain that there’s a diagram somewhere at a Quebec government office showing that there’s a telephone pole in the middle of the highway. But, this is surely easier to be overlooked by an engineer sitting in a distant office than by a member of road crew leaning against it.
Input from those on the ground, doing the actual work, is critically important to the success of any organization. What works in theory may not work in practice.
Here’s an idea:
Since organizations typically use learning management systems to show people how to better do their jobs, why not use learning management systems to gather input from workers on how the work they do can:
- Be safer
- Be done more efficiently
- Be less expensive
- Be more rewarding and stimulating
- Generate better products and services
Here are some ways to do this:
- Include a task after a lesson that invites the learner to submit improvements via a wiki, Google Doc, or other online editor.
- Or, for each course related to an internal process, add as a resource a link to an online, editable document to which learners can contribute.
- You could even create a course specifically designed to improve a process. Rather than showing learners how a process is currently done, simply enrol a project team into a course that contains one objective: the completion of a document describing their best collective thinking on how to complete the initiative.
Gathering input from learners is only a start. Decision makers and managers must review the information submitted and provide feedback, ideally directly in the online document, stating which suggestions will be implemented and providing reasons for why those that won’t be implemented were refused.
Input from workers can’t fall on deaf ears, otherwise learners will stop contributing good ideas. Then, morale will drop and poles might appear in the middle of highways.