Don't become processionary. Question the status quo. Work smarter, not harder!
Processionary caterpillars eat pine needles. They move through the trees like a little train, one leading and the others following, each with its eyes half-closed and its head snugly fitted against the rear end of the one in front.
Scientists have placed groups of these caterpillars into continuous lines with the first one connected to the last, forming a complete circle with no gaps.
Around and around they go. They do eventually figure out that they are not getting anywhere. But it takes them several hours (sometimes 10 or more) to break their circular, unproductive crawling.
Like these caterpillars, we sometimes feel bound to follow custom, precedent, tradition, habit, standard practice, company policy, or whatever you choose to call it. When we adhere so tightly to any of these things—without stopping to consider if there is a better way—we often waste precious time going in circles.
Are there any Processionary Caterpillars in your team? Are your people’s eyes half-closed? Do they methodically follow the person ahead of them? Do they, without question, blindly perform their tasks the way “it has always been done,” with no thought of improvement or change?
Take a critical look at your rules, policies and procedures—however well-intentioned, effective, or efficient they may seem. Do they become straitjackets and blinders to your people? Or does their work environment allow them to question the old ways without fear of retaliation?
Take a minute to ask, “Why are we doing this?” and encourage your people to do the same. Avoid the tendency to answer, “That’s the way we do things around here.” Avoid mistaking activity for accomplishment.
Don’t become Processionary Caterpillars. Question the status quo. Work smarter, not harder!
- From time to time (diplomatically) ask why certain policies or directions are being taken.
- You may often learn that department or company regulations or procedures are the result of circumstances that are now outdated and should be questioned and possibly revised.
- Look for energy and resources that support mere busyness. How could they be channeled toward greater accomplishment?