Stay fix (SF) on the other hand takes a subtly but radically different approach. When the mistake happens the ‘stay fixer’ will wonder “why?” In other words they will wonder what elements of the system (the whole system) made it likely that that particular mistake would occur... They are thinking about prevention. The mistake still has to dealt with of course but at this point, the stay fixer spins out and seeks to fix the system and put in place changes that reduce the chances that a similar mistake will happen in the future. At this point prevention is done (not just considered) and so work becomes easier and indeed people begin to work smarter not harder.
However there are a couple of big(ish) problems. The reductions in QF take time to come to fruition. Also investing in SF is a bit like stoking a steam train engine, it takes a while to gather speed. As a consequence, the overall cost to the organisation goes up before it can come down. This is always the case. QF savings do not magically appear without some effort. There is no easy solution to this but the only one which can work, in my experience, is prioritisation of the SF activity. For example avoid trying to reengineer all of your processes in one go – instead select a couple where some early gains are possible which then gives you some commitment and slack to move onto the next and the next and so on. This is why strategic planning is so very important as it helps an organisation select where to invest its SF activity.
- Role model SF practice (which is hard for the leaders who have been promoted on the strength of QF ability)
- Provide structures, tools and techniques to educate, enable, empower, support and inspire people to work in a SF way (such that QF becomes the work equivalent of leaving home without brushing you teeth!)
Perhaps one key measure of how shrewd & strategic a leader is, in this current context, will be the angle of the cut: somewhere between horizontal and vertical.