A Nearly Apocalyptic Workaround?
There was a fascinating article in a recent WIRED Magazine about Cold War nuclear response and defense systems. This one sidebar struck me as a classic workaround, if the story can be believed.
What: Midway through the Cold War, American leaders began to worry that a rogue US officer might launch a small, unauthorized strike, prompting massive retaliation. So in 1962, Robert McNamara ordered every nuclear weapon locked with numerical codes.
Effect: None. Irritated by the restriction, Strategic Air Command set all the codes to strings of zeros. The Defense Department didn’t learn of the subterfuge until 1977.”
Isn’t it amazing to see how clever people can be in working around a top-down management mandate? Would Secretary McNamara been more successful if he had involved all of the stakeholders and gotten buy in instead of issuing an order? How did DoD not know about the “subterfuge”? Because they weren’t going to the “gemba”??
I’m sure if you look around your organization (hospital or otherwise), you can find a similar dynamic in place somewhere… maybe everyone’s job this week should be to find a workaround?