Recently, someone on our team shared a very profound statement with me: “Just cause the squeaky wheel gets the grease, doesn’t mean the grease fixes the problem”.
The saying, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” is meant for those that want something addressed. Think of it this way:
- I have a problem. (I become the squeaky wheel )
- I decide what I want done to solve my problem. (I want grease )
- I keep pestering people till I get what I want that I think addresses my problem. (I am given grease )
But what if the real problem, the foundational problem, is overlooked because the “grease” hides what’s really wrong, hides what needs to be fixed. Or worse, there is only so much “grease” (i.e., time, money, resources) and they are all used up on the squeaky wheel – and there is nothing left to fix the real problem.
Rather than do the necessary “thought work” needed to apply root cause problem solving tools, we fall prey on those that yell the loudest for our time and attention. Rather than prioritizing our issues and applying resources accordingly, we use up our time and money quieting the squeaky wheel.
Using the tools we have been talking about the last few weeks helps you sort out using grease on the wrong issue. Granted, sometimes the “squeaky wheel” really does need “grease”. Learn to tell the difference.