9 People Are Not Machines (and that’s good!)

I had a really good blog all ready to send today. Then I tested positive for COVID yesterday, and my carefully scheduled life got completely unscheduled.

We count on machines to always be ready, always available, and they usually are, as long as we maintain them properly. Given the huge strides by the quality movement in the last 50 years, that is a good assumption.

But people are not machines. Even when somebody arrives at work with a smiling face, they might be going through turmoil underneath the surface – a little like a duck that looks like it’s sitting serenely in a stream. At least the top part of the duck looks serene. The legs and feet, however, are paddling like crazy to keep the duck “motionless” with reference to the streambank.

We can and do schedule predictable interruptions in people’s availability – vacations, holidays, summer camp for our military reserves, weddings, etc. But we can’t schedule random interruptions – sickness, accident, a death in the family, a family crisis. It’s how we treat people during those unplanned events that characterizes the health of an organization. As an active member in my local Chamber of Commerce for the last 5 years, I met with the CEO Friday for lunch. I’m privileged to have her as a friend above and beyond our Chamber relationship. I called her this morning to let her know I might have exposed her to COVID. She had 2 responses: 1) I’m so sorry to hear that, and 2) I’ll bring over some homemade chicken soup tomorrow. (She’s a WONDERFUL cook!) It’s actions like this that build strong community.

Machines don’t create community – people do. Machines don’t have ideas for improving operations – people do. So as “unreliable” as people are, they’re the essence of any organization. Not just the people on your payroll, but your larger communities as well – your customers, your suppliers, and the city where you’re located.

Finally, please get your shots. I have had both original shots and been boosted twice (the second time the 6 days before I tested positive). The shots probably won’t prevent you from catching Omicron or its variants; they will, however, prevent COVID from putting you in the hospital or the morgue. And that’s worth it for your loved ones’ sake.

Stay well,



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s