Solving problems can be done one of two ways. By treating the symptom with a band-aid, regardless of the malady. Or by diagnosing the underlying cause.
The ongoing saga of Wisconsin and its workers is strong evidence of what happens when organizations apply the former. In this case by trying to fix budget problems by focusing only on overhead.
Reducing overhead is an intermittent focus for businesses. In good times companies worry about revenue, convinced that profit will come along for the ride. In bad times, they suddenly become aware of margin and realize again that every dollar is not created equal.
This creates confusion for employees, who find their value has declined without any change in their performance, and long-term issues for management who are faced with an outdated organizational structure.
The result is an impasse in which ultimately both sides lose.
Imagine instead if both sides came together and used their creativity to solve the problem.
In the case of Wisconsin, this could mean collaborating on what would be needed to grow the economy of the state by the $1.3 billion that currently makes up the budget deficit.
It sounds like a lot of money.
Until you realize this.
The population of Wisconsin is just over 5.5 million people.
And if you gave each of them above the age of 6 the responsibility to increase the value of the Wisconsin economy by their share of the deficit, the amount of value they would each have to generate every year would be...
Proof that band-aids are good for cuts. But when applied in the wrong situation produce massive, internal bleeding.
Solving problems means two things.
Recognizing the real problem.
And applying our creativity to solve them.
Which costs nothing if your organization is built correctly.