Saturday, October 6, 2012
Wisdom, Action, And Planning
The drops of chocalate ice cream cascaded down the cone and landed impetously on the ground. They formed a line for about fifty feet tracing the path of the shopping cart with the infant dangling in the front. The mess facing the checkout counter didn't go unnoticed for long. Seconds later, a team of teenage Target employees swarmed with their red shirts and faded khakis. Shoppers unknowingly steered back and forth through the gelatinous puddles.
I expected the whole thing to take seconds. I could see the paper towels dangling from their hands. But strangely, the flurry of action was delayed. The young mouths moved and words were exchanged. I stepped closer to hear what was being said.
Apparently calculations were being made. A young man tried to triangulate where the offending drops had come from. A brief discussion was held about which direction was the correct starting place. All the while, the streaks of chocolate were being disrupted by the wheels of carts and unwitting footsteps. Within moments, the problem multiplied.
Eventually the team split up and attacked from multiple directions. One woman got on her hands and knees and scrubbed while a boy placed his paper towel on the floor and pushed it carelessly forward with his shoe.
The job got done, albeit inefficiently. Sticky sneakers could be heard making the pilgrimage to the front door. And I couldn't help but think of our health care system.
A generation of doers has been replaced with teams of measurers. As communities bleed, the new mangers tabulate and plot, calculate and proportion. But sometimes action is more timely than planning. Sometimes the guy on the floor scrubbing is the only one fast enough to prevent widespread disaster.
Planning and action. Action and planning.
Have we lost the wisdom to discern the difference?
Posted by Jordan Grumet at 6:17 PM