Killing the Leader

Heading into Memorial Day,  the news about the problems at the VA was hard to miss. All I had to do was turn on the radio or click on any news site and there was some article about the backlog, the fake waiting lists, and whether or not General Eric Shinseki should resign.

The waiting list problem wasn’t all that surprising: when you tell people they are going to be evaluated according to the success of a certain goal, and then don’t give them any obvious means to accomplish that goal, then they get creative. Unfortunately, they don’t necessarily get creative in a good way, particularly when all that matters is a particular outcome. When people don’t know what to do, they do whatever they can.

The solution to this scandal? Metaphorically killing the leader. Does that make the problem go away? From the sudden drying up of news coverage since Shinseki resigned, one might be forgiven for thinking so. The truth is, though, that the problems haven’t changed. All that’s happened is that an experienced leader will be replaced by a potentially less experienced one. Until that happens, it’s hard to imagine anything significant getting done. This hardly seems like a good recipe for success!

Does killing the leader really work? More on that in a few days…

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