Sooner Or Later We All Run Into “Ed”

No matter what type of business you are in and no matter what position you may hold, you will run into “Ed. ” Ed is not a real person but a type of person you may encounter from time to time.

Columns From: 12/1/2006 Modern Machine Shop,

No matter what type of business you are in and no matter what position you may hold, you will run into “Ed.” Ed is not a real person but a type of person you may encounter from time to time. Outwardly, Ed appears to be very much like you and me. Ed can be a young man new to an organization or a woman with many years of experience in a company. Ed can be a company owner, manager, machine operator, technical wizard, financial guru, administrative assistant, or just about anyone. Ed can be loud and boisterous or remarkably quiet and passive. Ed can come across as caring and considerate of the feelings of others. Many people will even admit that they like Ed, yet they are quick to qualify that admission with a “but . . . .” Ed can be many different people, but what he lacks is an open mind. Ed’s mind is closed to the possibility that things could be done differently to improve the business. Ed truly believes that the company is running as well as can be expected and there is really no good reason to change anything. Some people think the word “change” is not even part of Ed’s vocabulary.

We know quite a lot about Ed’s history and affiliations. Currently, Ed is a member of an organization called PAINS (People Against Introducing New Stuff). Formerly, Ed was a DRONE (Dedicated Resistor Opposing Nearly Everything), and lately Ed has been seen in the company of the FAKES (Fight Anything, Keep Everything the Same) and its more militant wing, the BRAKES (Blatant Resistance to Anything—Keep Everything the Same). When pushed, Ed is willing to FIGHT (Failure Is Guaranteed Here Today) despite a long-term commitment to being an OSTRICH (Old Style Thinking Reinforces “It Cannot Happen”). Ed’s present agenda is to STOP (Set To Oppose Progress) any change that may be in the works. If Ed is in a management position, Ed frequently MOPES (Manager Opposing Progress Every Step). Yet, no matter what Ed’s role is in the organization, most will attest to Ed being a DOPE (Dedicated to Opposing Progress Everywhere). Perhaps you have met someone like Ed, and know even more about this character.

Fortunately, there are fewer people like Ed in the business world today. As change has become a way of life in so many organizations, people like Ed have gone underground. However, just when you think Ed may be extinct, he or she will show up just to remind us they are still around, ready and willing to derail whatever they can.

What can you do if you ever encounter Ed? Some will say you have to work hard with Ed to try to bring about a change in behavior. Occasionally, that may prove successful. Unfortunately, for a truly ingrained Ed, a change in behavior involves just that—a change—something that he or she may be unable to comprehend. I have attended meetings with an Ed present, and although the “Non-Eds” in the room can see the futility of not changing, poor Ed just does not get it. Sometimes, the “Non-Eds” actually get uncomfortable listening to Ed ramble on, staunchly defending an unsupportable position. Some even start to feel sad as they recognize that Ed’s days in the organization are numbered.

Ultimately, for the unyielding Ed there is little that we mere mortals can do to get him to change. But we can (and must) help ourselves. If we are buying from Ed, we should take steps to assure we have alternate sources of supply. If we are selling to Ed, we had better work hard to develop customers who can replace Ed’s business (and never make the mistake of putting all our eggs in Ed’s basket). If Ed works for us, we will eventually need to dismiss Ed (and the sooner the better, before Ed can cause irreversible damage). If we work for Ed, we should brush up our resumes and find greener pastures as soon possible. If we find ourselves dealing with an “Ed,” we are the ones who must be proactive on making changes.

My apologies to any “Eds” out there who are proudly open-minded and have taken offense to my use of that name. I do recognize how important you are because without you, there would be no Teds, Freds, Jeds, Neds, Jareds, Manfreds, Alfreds, Pedros, Mildreds, Ednas, nor Edies. Also, for any who dislike the use of acronyms, I can only offer a heartfelt WHOOPS as“we hoped to offer opportunities to
practice smiling.”

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