Meet dump truck Joe, he’s really a special person.  If you’ve got some rubbish that needs clearing, he’s your man. He doesn’t care what it is or where it came from he just likes dumping stuff.  For dump truck Joe the faster he can dump it the better.

Back in the eighties I was working in London near a massive building site, later to be known as Canary Warf. One of the biggest tasks the contractor had was to remove literally hundreds of thousands of tons of earth, to make way for the foundations of skyscrapers.  A handful of haulage companies were recruited.  Each in turn recruited an army of independent truck drivers to transport the unwanted earth to land fill sites, 40km away in Kent.  Because the drivers were paid by the load, if they could, they found places to dump them much nearer by.  Some literally emptied their massive loads of stinking mud into the front gardens of homes just around the corner of the site.  It was not uncommon for local residents to come home to find that they could not enter their house due to a massive pile of earth and building rubbish piled up as high as the first floor window, right in front of their door!

Of course the haulage contractors knew what their drivers were doing, but they conveniently turned a blind eye for as long as possible.  I was thinking about this situation last week when I witnessed a manager receive a task from his boss.  No sooner had he received it, he had found someone to dump it on. It was then it occurred to me that this was culturally acceptable in that company.  It is normal for everyone who is given a task to just go around dumping it on anyone they had some kind of authority or influence over.  No ownership; no real care if their choice was suitable and absolutely not a seconds thought that they might conceivably actually do it themselves!

Do you have dump truck Joe’s in your company?  In many countries the name Joe is both attributed to men and women, and so it is that I see dumping tasks and responsibilities as both a male and female phenomenon.  Some are able to do it better than others; with a smile and a pat on the shoulder – but dumping is what they are doing none the less.

I like running businesses and projects where the underlying culture is of people taking on and actually delivering their responsibilities without the kneejerk reaction to delegate them.  Companies where people (even managers) actually do things, where the underlying culture of ownership, responsibility and pride runs so high that delegation has to be encouraged, on the basis of being overworked.

In dump truck Joe companies the doers are often seen as hero’s, as people to award medals to.  That they will somehow be satisfied with a shiny bright coin, hanging on a piece of colored ribbon, handed to them by a deputy, while their boss is away on a business trip.  

Meet dump truck Joe – he’ll clear your problems for you, but just don’t ask how and where he dumps it, after all it’s gone and it’s not your responsibility anymore!

Have a good week,