Great tools do not always equal success

Two reports on the state of Tennessee caught my attention last week. One was the results of a study by the Reason Foundation looking at highway data of all 50 states over the past 20 years. The other was the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index on the quality of life of the nation, broken down by state. The results of each report were very interesting to me.

The Reason Foundation found that Tennessee was one of only eleven states to improve its transportation infrastructure in each of seven key areas. “This report is a testament to the focus TDOT has placed on maintaining our infrastructure, aggressively repairing and replacing aging bridges, increasing safety, and managing congestion,” said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer. “This is truly exceptional when you consider we are one of only five DOT’s in the nation with no transportation debt.” This is a truly exceptional job by the Tennessee government to target the state’s roads and bridges and work to provide safer, more reliable travel for its residents.

Contrast this with the latest Well-Being Index. Tennessee ranks 47th in the Union in quality of life, beating out only Mississippi, Kentucky, and West Virginia. The index averages scores from six focus areas: life evaluation, emotional health, physical health, healthy behaviors, work environment, and basic access. The state actually saw an overall decrease from 2011 where it ranked 42nd in the nation.

The vastly different outcomes in these two reports struck me immediately. How can a state perform so well in one area and so poorly in another? The necessary backbone has been maintained and improved upon, yet the way of life residents lead is degrading. The government seems to be doing its part, yet the state culture is not keeping pace.

Do you see any correlation between Tennessee’s current performance in these two areas and yourself or your organization? Are the tools in place but the culture is out of whack? I can install a state of the art exercise facility in my house, but if I don’t use it consistently, I’m going to stay out of shape. A company can develop a brilliant strategic plan, but the plan is worthless if not woven into the cultural fabric. Great tools do not equal success. They most definitely aid in success, but a decision to use them properly must be continuously made. This is a perfect application for RESOLE:

  • Engaging RELIVE allows for an honest assessment of whether the tools and the culture are in alignment. If they are not, then…
  • RETHINK requires thoughtful discussion and action to ensure the organizational culture/individual mindset is corrected, including proper use of the tools. At this point…
  • A RESOLVE must be made to pursue the corrective actions set into motion. This means that there is a determination to realign the culture with the tools. And finally…
  • Consistent RENEW-al is vital. Creativity should be used to recast the vision and culture that has been established. A friend once told me that there are only three kinds of meat (chicken, pork and beef), but they are prepared in many different ways to keep them interesting. What fresh ways can you repackage your core values?

Through applying this process, or something similar (S.W.O.T. analysis, for example), the disconnections like those between the Tennessee infrastructure condition and the quality of life of its residents can be minimized, if not avoided all together.


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