Dwight Schrute Has Joined Our Team

Posted on May 19, 2010

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I knew if I purchased the Dwight Schrute bobble head doll I would eventually find good use for it. It was pre-Christmas and online sales had an in-your-face presence. I saw the bobble head for 50% off and knew and I had to get one. I did, but what would I do with it?

Many in our office are fans of The Office. Dwight Schrute, as the Assistant to the Regional Manager of Dunder-Mifflin Paper Products, Inc. had brought us many laughs. His bobble head would certainly find a place in our office. The question, again, was “where?”

I stored Dwight in my desk drawer for 5 months without any reasonable ideas of how to use him. That all changed on the night of May 11, 2010. I was attending a SHRM-Atlanta meeting where Tom Darrow was the speaker. Tom’s topic was Servant Leadership. Dwight is not someone I would consider to be a servant leader; however, something Tom said made me think of Dwight.

The PowerPoint slide was the trigger, “Don’t just say mistakes are ok, celebrate them!” That’s it! Dwight Schrute can help us celebrate mistakes. His whole life is a series of mistakes, gaffs, missteps, blunders, idiotic-ness and bloopers.

Dwight is a mistake prone salesman and co-worker. His mistakes typically grow out of his lack of common sense and social skills.  He is naïve and gullible. He is relentless in his successful quest for stupidity. No one wants to grow up to be a Dwight Schrute. Yet, I decided to use Dwight, not because we want to encourage incompetency, but to spawn fearless risk-taking.

At our next meeting I introduced the Dwight Schrute Malfunction of the Month Award. The purpose of the award is to celebrate employees whose missteps resulted from either a willingness to be wrong, offering an out-of-the box suggestion, or taking a risk for the sake of helping our clients or other team members.

Goals

  • We desire that this award remind us that “to err is human” and that failure is not a sign of weakness or diminished value. None of us are perfect. We want our company culture to reflect tolerance, forgiveness, grace, mercy, and acceptance.
  • Our hope is that the award will encourage creativity. It is our goal that our team members ditch self-preservation for the sake of taking new ground. We don’t want the fear of humiliation to constrain our team from reaching forward with innovation. We don’t want our team members to hold back on bold initiatives because there is the risk of malfunction. Innovation breeds success; it also tends to breed failures. A culture of success not only tolerates failure, it celebrates it if the failure is a direct result of bold initiatives. Where there is a tolerance for failure, you will often find profuse success.
  • Through this award we aim to encourage our team members to communicate openly without fear of rejection. There are no dumb ideas. We don’t want our team members to hold back an idea they fear could be rejected by someone who is less open-minded or resistant to change. If our employees are free to openly share their wildest ideas then we have succeeded.

Implementation

We are making this FUN. The Dwight Schrute bobble head is a fun visual that will remain on the employee’s desk for a month. Here is how it works:

  • At each monthly staff meeting we ask our team to share & nominate blunders, miscues, missteps and mistakes they or other team members have made. These blunders could be a bold statement, creative initiative that failed, or off-the-wall idea that was shared. Malfunctions resulting from blatant stupidity, incompetency, laziness, poor choices or lack of integrity are ineligible for consideration. The atmosphere during this discussion is purposefully light and fun.
  • After the nominations, we vote, via closed ballot, for the best malfunction of the month. There is no definition of “best.” It could be defined as the funniest, wackiest, or most creative. Or, it could refer to a level of sophistication or effort.
  • Prizes are given to the winner. We are starting with 12 prizes including several small prizes and a couple of super prizes such as gift cards. The winner each month will randomly draw a number from a fishbowl; each number will have a corresponding prize.

Will this exercise work? I hope so-it was readily embraced when it was introduced. If it doesn’t work, however, it may land Dwight Schrute permanently on my desk.

 

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