The Try Something Different Trap

You want results, you just don’t know how to get them. So is it okay to just say “try something different?”

Ever work for a manager who liked to play the “bring me a rock” game of leadership?

You know the story—it goes something like this: The manager says “bring me a rock.”  The “rock” may be a report, or a client lead, or a process. You “bring the rock.” And the manager responds with, “No, not that rock…bring me a different rock.”

You get it?  The manager—not leader, manager—is playing a visionless game of trial and error, only it’s your trials and your errors.

Bring me a rock management can manifest itself in many ways. Some that I’ve witnessed include managers who use phrases like:

“I don’t know what the answer is, but keep trying.”

“I’ll know it when I see it.”

“What have you already tried? Well, then don’t do that anymore.”

These are brilliant inklings that the manager lacks vision or even a hypothesis of a vision.

In leadership, you and I always have to have a point of view. While we have to avoid embodying the definition of insanity by allowing our people to repeat the same actions while expecting different outcomes, we also need to ensure that we provide at least a hypothesis of what the different actions are.

Otherwise, we are just a warm body…

An officeholder…

A bureaucrat…

That’s fine if your job is to observe and report, but it’s not okay if your job is (ostensibly) to create value. Any bureaucrat can issue orders to “try again.”  It takes leadership and vision to enter the fray and bring a point of view.

Take care not to play bring me a rock. It’s demoralizing to the people around you, and it reflects more poorly on you than you will ever know.

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