Short view / long view: why business is broken

Bob has a pie shop and four staff who all make pies.

A makes the best pies.
B and C make good pies fast.
D is competent but neither good nor fast.

Bob needs a supervisor for production but can’t afford to hire. Which of his staff will he promote?

Short view

Well, definitely not A or quality will suffer. Not B or C as production would decline. A, B and C are all too talented and productive — Bob needs them to carry on producing.

So he’ll promote the least able and the least productive: D. It solves his supervisor problem and gets the under-performing staff member off the production line. Now the worst of them is the boss of them.

A, B and C are now alienated, demotivated. But that’s not all. D isn’t happy either.

D now suffers with imposter syndrome and acts out by finding fault with the work of A, B and C. He has to do this in order to manage his own cognitive dissonance: he can’t be the supervisor if he’s the worst; that wouldn’t make sense. Therefore he must be better than the others. His colleagues’ work will now magically become worse in order to fit this new world view.

Short-View Bob is what we call a manager. He creates dissonance, division and discontent. Short-View Bob can’t understand why production keeps declining and why his best staff leave.

Long view

In this scenario, Bob promotes the most able staff member. There is a short-term dip in productivity, which Bob can plan and budget for. But, over time, A’s mentoring not only helps D close the gap with B and C, but also helps B, C and D close the gap with A. Thus, productivity is up across the board.

Long-term succession planning is also built into the staff development process: should A suddenly move on, B, C and D are ready to take the reins.

With this positive reinforcement for good work, motivation and staff engagement are up.

Long-View Bob is what we call a leader. He creates harmony and fosters a culture where doing well works out for you.

I know who I’d rather work for.

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