You may be asking… Is he really going to try to derive some career coaching from The Brady Bunch? You must think that I am crazy. I probably am, however, there is an important lesson that I have used many times from The Brady Bunch Movie that was released in 1995. One of the comedic subplots of the movie revolves around Mike, the Brady dad who is an architect that designed the house the Bradys live in. As you get a glimpse into Mike’s professional life, you see that Mike presents the same design (the Brady House design) for all potential projects, whether it be a shopping mall, and office building, a strip mall, etc. It is mildly funny, but for the careful learner, there is a strong lesson. One technique or approach IS NOT APPROPRIATE FOR ALL problems.
Consider the following real life situation from early in my career. I was on a project where my company signed a 5-year IT outsourcing deal with a client. It was to be the first large outsourcing deal for my company. The project part of the deal was that we needed to do a total systems replacement in the first 6 months of the deal. So my company sent in an army of our best project managers, information systems specialists, and programmers to tackle the systems replacement. One of the younger project managers was a wizard with our project plan tool (think Microsoft Project, but this was long before Microsoft developed project) and he prepared fantastic project plans and reports of progress made, variances, and work left to be done on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. The client was impressed, as was our management. Somehow we accomplished the system replacement in 6 months and the project manager who I mentioned was rewarded with a “promotion” to oversee the help desk and production support of all the new applications. Can you see where this is going?…. Yep, the young project manager created havoc for the next 12 months by trying to manage a help desk and trouble tickets with a work plan. He was later replaced with someone that had expertise in setting up help desks and production support environments.
I preach regularly about the need to keep learning and expand your knowledge base. Those of us in the healthcare IT world for over 20 years have learned Total Quality Management, Six Sigma, LEAN, and more from the guru’s like Jack Welch and W. Edwards Deming and many of us have bookshelves full of all the reference materials for each. The reason that we learn all these techniques and approaches is so that we may use the technique that is the best fit for the problem we are solving or so that we may create a new technique to solve the problem based on all we know about many techniques.
So, the next time you observe someone using the same approach to every problem, tell them the story of Mike Brady and why it’s important to “have more than one tool in your belt.” Then help them identify or develop the most appropriate tool for the job at hand.