5 Signs You're in a Hot Potato Culture

In this week's episode of 5 Minutes with @NYIke, I provide three ways to address a hot potato culture. But first, let's define it and identify its signs.

Hot Potato Culture

Here are some definitions of the idiom, hot potato: (i) any subject which several folks are talking about and which is frequently argued, (ii) something that is hard or terrible to handle, (iii) a ​problem or ​situation that is ​difficult to ​deal with and ​causes a lot of ​disagreement

A hot potato culture is one where few or no one wants to take ownership of a problem, issue, or opportunity. It implies there's a lack of engagement or initiative. When issues are discussed, there's no one stepping up saying that they will take ownership and see to its resolution. When there's an opportunity, no one raises their hand and says, "I'm going to get this done."

In some cases, the issue or opportunity is like the hot potato bouncing from person to person. No one wants to be the last person holding the potato and expected to take on more work.

Hot potato cultures can be organization-wide, specific to a department, or with one particular team. While it is often labeled as an organization, department, or team issue, it's more likely a leadership problem at the root cause. Watch the video to review and consider my solutions.

Are you in a Hot Potato Culture

Here are five signs:

  1. Everyone has to be invited to decision-making meetings. This is a sign of many organizational issues, but one reason they emerge is when leaders believe that things will get done when everyone is involved in the process. That's simply not the case, and there are more efficient ways to collaborate and communicate priorities, opportunities, and problems with teams. 
  2. It's always Groundhog Day. This means that you want into the office every day, week, month, and feel like you're discussing the same issues with little progress being made.
  3. Leaders add to the list and never follow through on execution. If leaders aren't following through on the status of initiatives, then the organization too often responds with little or no progress against them.
  4. No meeting notes capturing followups. If no one is taking notes and action items after meetings, it pretty much implies that no one will follow up. 
  5. Boiling the ocean on every issue or opportunity. - When people identify all the use cases, nuances, and dependencies with every opportunity or problem, then it circumvents the discussion from minimally viable solutions. Who wants to own a big hairy problem?

In this weeks episode, I share five potential solutions:

If you have questions about transforming the culture with agile or if you want to chat further, please reach out to me!

1 comment:

  1. Isaac - Share this with several team members this week. So many organizations struggle with this cultural issue. Thanks for humorously reminding us that it doesn't have to be an accepted "norm".



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About Isaac Sacolick

Isaac Sacolick is President of StarCIO, a technology leadership company that guides organizations on building digital transformation core competencies. He is the author of Digital Trailblazer and the Amazon bestseller Driving Digital and speaks about agile planning, devops, data science, product management, and other digital transformation best practices. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO, a digital transformation influencer, and has over 900 articles published at InfoWorld, CIO.com, his blog Social, Agile, and Transformation, and other sites. You can find him sharing new insights @NYIke on Twitter, his Driving Digital Standup YouTube channel, or during the Coffee with Digital Trailblazers.