Monday, November 1, 2010

Garbage on the Beach

A small beach on the northeast coast attracted loads of tourists and locals alike. It was the perfect summer getaway.

With the crowds came garbage. Lots of it. The city spent more and more money increasing the number of trash cans and frequency of pick-ups. With each effort, bottles and wrappers would still pile up at the base of the overflowing trash cans and liter lay on the beach.

A city council member came up with an interesting proposal; remove all trash cans and stop all trash pick-ups. Where the trash cans used to sit, a simple sign read "Take out what you bring in" - or something like that. Maybe the sign read "Take out your own Trash." You get the point. Unfortunately, I forgot where I read about this story (thus no citation).

In any case, this seemingly counter-intuitive (and creative) solution worked. The beach was cleaner than it had ever been before.

Imagine your team are the beach goers. Instead of taking the burden of solving problems from them, push them to be part of the solution. When you are notified about a broken process, don't take on more to fix it - give them power and accountability. Expect more.