Why Are My Fingerprints on the Knife in My Back?

Bob Sevier

Bob Sevier

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A number of years ago, I read a book by Jerry Harvey. It had a great title: How Come Every Time I Get Stabbed in the Back My Fingerprints Are on the Knife? The book centers around a series of meditations and observations on how and why individuals and organizations self-destruct.

I have thought about this book a lot over the years, and I find myself thinking about it more and more each day.

Increasingly, I wonder:

  • Why do we refuse to focus and prioritize?
  • Why does it take so long to make a decision?
  • Why do we worship at the altar of complexity when simplicity would serve us well?
  • Why, once a decision is made, do we not follow through?
  • Why do we continue to make the same decisions again and again?
  • Why do we allow team members to undermine the decisions made by the team?
  • Why do we not measure performance?
  • Why do we refuse to hold ourselves, and each other, accountable?

As I think about possible answers to these questions I have outlined above, a couple of ideas begin to emerge from the mist.

First, all of us are trying to do too many things and have trouble keeping track of the truly important.

Second, there is simply no sense of urgency. We believe that there is always tomorrow.

Third, we do not calculate the cost of our organizational dysfunctions.

Fourth, we have never had to pay the costs of our organizational dysfunctions.

Fifth, I believe that decisive leadership and exceptional followership can be frightening to people who, at one level, find comfort in the status quo. Sadly, most of us prefer managers over leaders. Boat rockers make us nervous.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we do not have an organizational vision that is worthy of our better efforts. In other words, we simply cannot imagine things being better than they are.

But we need to.

There you go. Enough venting for now.

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