Is ego getting in the way of really understanding your plant's data?

Sept. 9, 2021
You also might be working with these types, who spin numbers to look good while trying to hide the bad.

Have you ever dealt with someone whose ship is sinking, statistically speaking, and they still can’t see that things are only getting worse? Are you one of these people? It could be that you are an egolytical person.

Egolytical: a combination of an analytical thinker and a highly regarded ego:

  1. A person that is supposedly driven by numbers but then does not believe it is bad, due to their inability to see that they are not doing a good job;
  2. A person that is supposedly driven by numbers but ignores the indicators that things are not as well as they seem, and tries to find a way to positively spin them to make them look good.

I have said in the past but will reiterate again Einstein’s formula for ego:

Ego = 1/knowledge

In other words, the less knowledge you have, it is compensated with ego. The inverse is also true. So the more ego, the wider the gap in knowledge.

There are a few reasons that this has come to be. First is the fact that many companies have lost their way, so priorities are wrongly focused. This will cause one to not see the troubling signs of a company’s failure and, in turn, focus on all the wrong things only compounding the problem. The issue with this is as a company’s profits sink, so do the livelihoods of those that depend on this income. It is great that you have the prettiest pink tractor, but if you are not selling them, it is a problem.

A great example of this is when you go to present your case in front of a leadership team and you have all the financials, data, and a well-assembled business case, in which you dedicated hours upon hours putting it together. You know in your heart of hearts that this will get their attention and show that we are heading in the wrong direction.

Instead, when the day comes to present, you give it your all, but they are more focused on the number of “er’s” and “um’s” you used, or the fact that you didn’t capitalize a certain letter within the presentation. You show that the place is burning down all around them, and yet they gained no value from your presentation, but focused on punctuation and vocabulary.

Next is those that are fearful to share the fact that the company or department is failing. They try to spin the negative into a positive, or flat-out ignore the fact that they are failing and make it more of a feel-good story.

I once worked for a company whose numbers were fairly atrocious, downtime was through the roof, the ammonia system was crumbling, putting thousands at risk, lacked strategy and direction, etc. I could go on for days listing the problems facing this facility. It was a very scary place to work and after doing all I could to try to convince leadership of the looming threats and how we should approach it, I ended up fighting a losing battle.

I remember one day, we had an ice cream social to celebrate that we broke a record for lowest number of recordable injuries for a given year. We only had 14 people get hurt that past year. So to celebrate the 14 people who were injured, we threw a party! My only thought at the time is that I wondered how those that got injured feel about the company celebrating it.

Saying all this, the real question is, what is the solution? In that, I do not know. There are so many variables that exist within these circumstances that the solutions are endless. Do you know anyone like this? Could you be one of them?

About the Author: The Captain

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