THE FOLLOWING IS A TRANSCRIPT OF MELTON’S VIDEO “Are You Kicking My Luggage Down the Road?”:
Hi, I’m Tom Melton with Melton leadership. I work with some of the best business and ministry leaders in Colorado, but the process of running a large organization or building a complex team they often find that no leader can do it all by themselves. And I help them to help themselves and to help their teams better connect, clarify, and to grow.
Today, I want to talk to you about a syndrome that is very common in every organization, and I believe that as we identify it and take ownership of it, it can help your organization and your company or your team operate on all cylinders.
I’d like to introduce this by telling you about experience I just had. I just got back from going to Italy and as we went to Italy, we flew from Denver to London and then London to Rome and then our destination was Sicily. So by the time we got to Rome, maybe you’ve had this experience – you’re tired, you just want to get your bags and go check into this hotel and we’ll leave [for Sicily] in the morning. Well sure enough, after watching all of the bags go around and around and around, the one that was missing was mine.
So I thought, “This is great.” So we went to find the person, and there isn’t anybody in the whole airport it felt like. We finally found somebody and they said, “Well, we don’t know about it, but we’ll get in touch with you tomorrow.” By this time we’re going to be gone on our plane by then. So they said, well then we will get in touch with you this and this.
So it went from one person to another person and the net effect was we finally got my luggage three days later. And cause I didn’t have any other clothes, I had to go buy pants and shoes and a shirt and all that. But it just occurred to me that this was a very simple problem.
They knew where the bag was – it was in Rome – and they knew how to get it to Sicily, but what had happened is each time that it had been handed off, it was somebody else’s problem. So by the time it got to me, and of course, I’m the only one that was really bearing the weight of it, and you know, I’m there on vacation and so 3 days of my vacation is caught up in me walking around in weird clothes – which I typically do anyway – but they were now new clothes.
And so finally we get the word that we’re going to meet this guy and it’s like in some alley down in a place in Sicily. We finally get it, everything’s good, we get back to the hotel and so on. So I found myself after I got my bags and I was frustrated at for 3 days and not having clothes and all the, you know, the pain in the tail calling people and somebody passing it to this person or that.
The common thing that was going on that goes on and every organization and we’re all prone to it, and that’s kicking the can down the road. In other words, we don’t take responsibility for our piece. It wasn’t a complicated problem; they made it complicated because they didn’t take responsibility. I thought about, if it was my bag or anyone in those eight people that handle that bag, if they knew that it was their bag, I wonder if they would have just casually passed it along.
The same thing when we think about how we run our organization, how our teams work, how our employees and employers work. If we are often just kicking the can down the road. Someone is given an assignment to do something and say well that’s not my job so I’ll let somebody else do it. So instead of me doing it or carrying it all the way through, it doesn’t get done, it gets passed off.
I think a good example of that phenomenon is the company Nordstrom. For years it has prided itself on not kicking the can down the road. So if you go to a Nordstrom and you’re maybe in women’s shoe department and you decide that you need something in Home furnishings, you ask those shoe salesperson about that and that person will actually take you up to the the Home Furnishing and they may even help you get what you’re looking for. If you think about if you substitute that and you’re the shoe salesman, you say, “Well that’s not my job; I don’t know it’s upstairs someplace”.
So practically speaking when we think about how we operate in our own life when someone gives us something to do that we don’t maybe feel it’s that important to us, are we prone to kick the can down the road? We see it on massive levels nationally with our government, with our companies, where people aren’t taking responsibility. So it’s a simple concept, it’s hard to do.
The company that pays attention to that, that takes responsibility, and each person gets the sense that we’re all in this together, is a team that operates together and is much more efficient, and much more able to solve problems.
So I challenge you to look at your own way of operating today. Have you kicked the can down the road? If your wife asks you to do something, do you say, “Well, I’m not really into that,” or “I’m going to ask my son to do it instead,” and because he didn’t want to do it either, he asks his little brother and his little brother doesn’t want to do it so it didn’t get done and now this simple problem becomes very complex.
I encourage you to take a look at your own life and your own way of operating and ask, “Am I kicking the can down the road? What if the bag was my bag? What if the can was my can? Would it be any different?” I think it would be, so if you recognize this being a problem in your company or in your organization, I encourage you to get ahold of me at Meltonleadership.org, and I can be of help… because I’ve blown it enough times like everybody else, but I’m seeing the power of applying this principle.