The electricity was working just fine and no one knew there was an issue – until the homeowner went to install a new ceiling fan. That action, which should be a simple one, involved opening up an electrical box and finding a quagmire. The wires were every which way and even an electrician couldn’t easily make sense of it.

Staring at the tangle of wires, it was difficult to assess what had been done in the past – thereby making it challenging to know how to move forward in the future.

While the specifics revolve around electricity and a fan, I think the general principle applies to many situations in an organization. No one notices that the accounting practices are shady – until there is an audit. Leaders don’t sense that morale is declining – until the mass exodus begins. Organizations let their policies entropy – until there is a harassment claim or lawsuit.

It’s nice when the infrastructure is humming along without intervention but make it part of your routine to keep current with the equivalent of your electrical wiring. Don’t wait until it hits the proverbial fan to peek inside the box.

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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