Rowe-ing with one oar

So did you see what I did up there in the title?

Clever girl.

Honestly, that is why I get paid the moderate but respectable bucks that I do.

Have you heard of ROWE? No? Allow me to assist you in removing the large rock that you have been living under.

Okay, better?

About 6 years ago, in a galaxy far, far away from HR I worked in the R&D group for a manufacturing company. The organization, like many at that time, was keen to adopt the principles of Lean Manufacturing. As part of this, they were committed to tackling 5S, which I sum up as (Clean up your friggin’ mess). In fact, I was so passionate about 5S that I was asked to lead the initiative.


Could there be anything more fun than going into employees’ “houses” (cubicles, offices, work areas) and telling them that we are going to go through every single thing in here and decide whether it stays or goes. And then we are going to organize the shit out of it. And then you are going to keep it that way. And we will check. Regularly.

I was extremely popular during this time.

On the plus side, my transition to HR was a breeze.

Ultimately, despite the pissing and moaning, we got through the process and it was successful. It wasn’t easy getting everyone’s buy-in, but we managed to get everyone to participate and the improvement was visible and undeniable.

The fact of the matter is that I had to have everyone on-board. I could not have done it by myself. I couldn’t have done it even with a small group of devotees.


So back to ROWE (I know, you thought I had forgotten about it).

I like the principles of ROWE – it speaks to how I would like to work and what kind of environment I think could be successful. It’s also very scary.

Our organization is not ROWE and I don’t believe it will ever be because you have to approach it from an all-in perspective. You can’t just pick and choose who will or will not be able to participate. It completely defeats the purpose.

However, despite this I am trying to apply some of the concepts to my own work and get my Director familiar and comfortable with the idea. Of course, my tactic has always been to ask for stuff…the worst thing that could happen is that they say no. So far, so good.

Unfortunately, not everyone will let it pass. I work with quite a few people who equate time at work with productivity. I have seen people come in, do sweet nothing, and then leave. And yet they are considered good little soldiers because they showed up on time and didn’t leave before they were suppose to. AND they are quick to point out when others are not in the office.

This frustrates me to no end.

So I am ROWE-ing a boat with only one oar and as long as I’m in this position, I’m doomed to go in circles.


3 thoughts on “Rowe-ing with one oar

  1. Roweing with one oar actually widens the circle slowly but certainly. In time you will consume the world. Keep roweing.

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