My all time favourite TV series is M*A*S*H, a comedy/drama centred around the doctors and nurses of the 4077th M*A*S*H unit during the Korean War. The series was so poplular that it outlasted the duration of the 3 year war, spanning 11 seasons and 251 episodes.

The strong characterisation and story lines presented thought provoking themes that provide the ideal platform for lessons on life and leadership. Whether you are a fan of the show or not, I'm sure you will connect with my leadership insights from M*A*S*H.

LEADING FROM THE TRENCHES features bite-sized, candid insights that speak into the gritty space of leadership through the eyes of a fellow leader seeking to "lead with all diligence" (Romans 12:8).

Monday, February 4, 2013

Creative Solutions

Episode 36: The Incubator

Capt. Sloan:  Now, the business at hand is an incubator…”Device 
              for developing bacterial cultures at constant  
              suitable temperatures.” Uh-huh, I see. That 
              certainly makes sense. You can’t have one.
Hawkeye:      Beg your pardon?
Capt. Sloan:  I checked your BEL (Basic Equipment List). This 

              unit has everything it’s supposed to have;
              you’re not entitled to an incubator. That would 
              be…a luxury.
Hawkeye:      We’re not asking for a jukebox or a pizza oven.
Capt. Sloan:  Oh, those I can let you have.  

Hawkeye and Trapper challenge Army bureaucracy to try and obtain an essential piece of medical equipment. When all efforts fail, they gate crash a press conference to pressure the general in giving their unit an incubator. 

There is a perpetual frustration faced by leaders in organizations where red tape or bureaucracy gets in the way of common sense. While we all recognise the need for effective systems and structures, there are times when they become the master and not the servant of mission. I have found during these times that I have fundamentally three choices: Stay frustrated, fight the system or find creative solutions. I am rarely satisfied with “it can’t be done” or “that’s just the way it is” and will constantly endeavour to be a part of the solution, rather than feeding or fighting the problem. I think the most effective way to deal with bureaucratic red tape is not giving into what is, but discovering creative solutions and working towards what could be.