Monday, October 03, 2011

How Many of Your Colleagues Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb?

How many (fill in the blank yourself) does to take to change a light bulb? The original answer to the joke is “Three,” with the punch line being “…one to hold the bulb the bulb and two to turn the ladder.” Other variations tell us that the task requires 5 trumpet players, one to change the bulb and four to stand around and tell how they could have done it better. In the case of the movie star, it only takes one…she holds the bulb and the world revolves around her. You can find pages and pages of “light bulb” jokes. It’s a favorite way to poke fun at the students from a rival college or different ideology.

We all know it should take one person to change a light bulb, but we wait for the ridiculous answer and the even more absurd explanation.

The really absurd thing, however, are the real-life “light bulb” jokes. They are those tasks that could and should be handled by one person, yet we wind up involving far more. Our time is wasted, our patience is tried, and we neglect the important work we could be doing in favor of the one-person job someone has seen fit to turn into a twenty-person job.

In my years of experience in education, I saw all too many times when someone at every school was running a report to submit to the central office. The pitiful truth of it all was that one person could have run have the report for the entire school system in less time than it took to give every school instructions on what to do, track who had submitted the report, and then compile the results.

The same scenario happens on a daily basis at the schools every day when principals ask dozens of teachers to each run reports which could just have easily been handled by one person in the office.

Time and time again, I see teachers do this to themselves as they do things by hand that a computer could do far better and 10 faster. Is it any wonder so many feel exhausted at the end of the day and also feel little has been accomplished?

Wednesday, we will examine the root of the problem. Friday, let’s look at solving it.

What are the “light bulb” situations you have come across?


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