Raising the level of your leadership

What To Do With Herbie?

Where'sHerbie“Where’s Herbie?”

“He can’t keep up with us.”

“Okay, we’ll have to stop and wait for him.”

Herbie is immortalized in The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt (1984; more than 6 million sold in 21 languages). Herbie’s boy scout troop is on a hike—Herbie can’t keep up—it’s stop and wait, stop and wait, stop…. The scout master’s solution? Lighten Herbie’s backpack and move him to the front of the line. Stop and wait is solved, but now the whole troop is moving at a slower pace and there’s a lot of grumbling. Well, maybe boy scouts wouldn’t grumble, but if your organization has a Herbie (you probably do), there’ll be lots of grumbling.

Most every organization has a Herbie who can’t keep up because of…technology or intellect or whatever. Herbie is setting the pace for the organization and the pace is too slow. Competitors are moving faster, technology is passing you by, or customers (or congregation or students or…) are leaving. So most every organization is asking, “What to do with Herbie?”

The boy scout solution (slow down, no scout left behind) is a poor option for most organizations. You’ll have to come up with something else:

  • Lighten Herbie’s load so he can keep up with the desired pace. But be careful. Adding Herbie’s workload to others may spawn resentment in the rest of the organization, especially if it is perceived as a permanent solution or favoritism (“they wouldn’t do that for me”).
  • Help Herbie pick up the pace via a new computer or software, effective training and coaching, etc.
  • Move Herbie to a “non-pace” job that needs to be done, but doesn’t set the pace for everyone else.
  • ________________________________ (Send your recommendation in the comment section.)

The two hardest solutions are:

  • Okay…in the end…Herbie must go.
  • Finding out that you are the organization’s Herbie. You are the one that needs to pick up the pace.

One thing that is not a solution: do nothing.

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© Copyright 2016 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company

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