Repairing the Steve Slater Syndrome


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Alrighty then, we have ourselves a new folk hero – Steve Slater – from an incident on a Jet Blue flight.  Add this incident to the young lady that quit her job using a dry erase board . . . and we may have the start of a revolution.   “Going postal” just got a little less violent and a lot more creative.

Workers are getting more stressed out.  Nurses and others walking off the job for better working hours.  Even more workers wishing they could.

Meantime, we continue to see the squeeze on workers for more hours leading to more stress and the cycle continues.  Workers are asking for more hires and companies are afraid to hire.

I hear more of this every day from folks on the front-line being squeezed.  The hyprocrisy and power of command and control organizations is evident in these conversations.  Cost cutting is being felt everywhere, but mostly is something done to the front-line . . . an they are starting to fight back. 

Unions are licking their chops at such a plight.  I believe that unions are born from command and control management as when workers feel taken advantage of unions form.

I have listened to employees of systems thinking organizations and I find the exact opposite is true . . . they are happy.  What do you suppose these organizations did to these people? Was it quality education, skills training, empowerment programs, empathy audits, kaizen scripts, best practices, etc.?  Nope. 

These organizations changed their thinking about the design and management of work which changed the system and improved performance.  The work became more important than the management of the work.

Management discovered that being in the work offered better financial returns than pouring over mountains of data and/or financials.  Being in the work allows managers to understand the context of the data they don’t see sitting behind their desks.  Workers don’t have to face dreamed up change programs that are based on assumptions.

Clearly, no one condones the actions of any of these incidents.  However, management needs to be able not just cal HR and legal to clean up the mess.  They need to reflect on the causes of a culture gone . . . Slater.

Leave me a comment. . . share your opinion!  Click on comments below.

Make the new decade a profitable and rewarding one, start a new path here.  Download free from “Understanding Your Organization as a System” and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about how to get started at [email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at LinkedIn at

Tripp Babbitt is a columist (Quality Digest and IQPC), speaker, and consultant to private and public service industry.  

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