The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology

systematicHR Avatar

My road bike is a custom titanium racing frame.  It was made by a guy in Montana who is probably the cleanest welder of titanium bike frames in the world, the guy’s work is just impeccable.  I don’t really need a custom bike – it’s not like my body proportions are weird or anything.  I’m a pretty average guy apparently – or so my builder (Carl Strong of Strong Frames) tells me.  However, I was starting to have some problems on the bike I had never had before.

A few years back, I was riding down a winding road in the rain with my team.  We had decided very early on that we would not go fast, but down this road we were probably averaging over 30mph, and it was wet out.  I remember feeling pretty good and very comfortable with the person in front of me – 30mph in the rain and being consistently less than an inch from having my front wheel touching their rear wheel is nothing to sneeze about.  Then in an instant, the entire world literally went to slow motion.  My rear wheel slid out in the water, I remember vividly as my bike stayed upright sliding down the road sideways as I countersteered the bike trying both to keep from crashing and not drift into oncoming traffic at the same time.  Years later, my body is still creating new scar tissue.

I had lost my balance.

I needed a corrective emotional experience, and I could not do it on my current bike.  I had forgotten how to corner aggressively, and while I could walk into any bike shop and pretty well fit on any bike my size, I needed a custom rig that was made especially for a few specific purposes.  I needed a bike that would make me corner well again and give me confidence.  Carl decided that he would lower the entire bike ((For those who know bikes, he lowered the bottom bracket height by 5 millimeters)).  This minute adjustment lowered my center of gravity by just enough that the wheels would be a significant amount stickier than any other bike on the road.  I also asked him to put the top tube of the bike exactly where my inside knee hits in a corner so that I could use it as leverage in corners. ((I point my knee towards the bike, not into the corner like most people – I use the knee to push the bike upright in a corner, even while I’m pushing on the inside of the bar to countersteer.))

Every now and again in HR, we need a corrective emotional experience.  Our customers get so frustrated with us, complain about inaccurate data, complain about cumbersome processes, ask finance to check our numbers because they think all of our reports are wrong.  Singe bad experiences in key meetings or transactions can haunt us forever, and sometimes the only fix is a new vendor or a “reimplementation.”  Sometimes the fix is spending a ton of money to show the organization that we’re fixed.  While this is not ideal, and while there are often less costly ways of straightening ourselves out, from a change management perspective, our customers sometimes just want us to get rid of the original culprit.

In the psychiatry world, they call these corrective emotional experiences.  Until you have a corrective experience, the last negative experience is just going to linger with you, and you’ll be skeptical of anything with the same roots as the single bad experience.  It’s suboptimal, but when there is no other way around it, a corrective experience might just mean throwing something in the trash and starting over.  You don’t like it and I don’t like it, but I’m just saying sometimes it’s necessary.

systematicHR Avatar