Peer Reviews

When I arrived at the beach the sun was just cracking the sky. I was rolling my beach cart “battle wagon” down the ramp to the ocean. This beach ramp also served cars and at the bottom of the ramp orange pylons mark boundaries to make the ramp clear to cars. As I approached the bottom I could see the unmistakable tracks of a sea turtle where she had come out of the ocean, laid her eggs, and went back into the ocean. If the turtle’s goal had been to lay her eggs at the base of the southernmost pylon, she could not have done any better.

The individual responsible for turtle nests for this area of beach is a park ranger who walks it on foot because the beach south of the ramp is an environmentally sensitive area and vehicles are not allowed. I waved to the ranger as he walked by me about an hour later and assumed he had seen the nest and marked it. As I returned from fishing about 4 hours later, making my way through all the tourists now camped and hanging out at the base of the ramp, I saw that the nest had not been marked.

While I was packing my gear in the car, I saw the ranger again and asked him if he saw the tracks at the base of the ramp and he said no, and to show him. As we approached the bottom of the ramp he was in disbelief and initially insisted that the tracks weren’t there at 7:00 am when he walked down the ramp and asked me what time I arrived. I told him the tracks were there at 5:45 am. He then closely examined the path of the turtle and nest area, thanked me, and went to get his tools to check the nest.

The turtle nest was literally at the first step of his journey on the beach.  The ranger missed seeing the nest because of a condition we all have.

If a problem or information or solution is very close to us, we often do not see it.

The classic experience is reviewing a document you created. You are confident it is error free, but if you show it to someone else they immediately find an obvious error. Worse than that is when you publish it and then immediately see an error yourself.

This inability to consistently see what is close to us must be dealt with in the business environment.

  1. Take every opportunity to have your work peer reviewed by colleagues and peer review their work.
  2. If you lead others ensure that they peer review each other’s work.
  3. Have someone with no knowledge of your processes, procedures or business model review your processes, procedures, or business model.
  4. When new employees or team members show up, in addition to their assigned duties, take advantage of their “fresh eyes” and task them to provide a report on problems and opportunities they see in their first few weeks in the organization. If you have ever been new to an organization you may have been astounded by something you observed that the organization did not see or took for granted.

The busier you or your team are, the less likely you can see problems or information or solutions that are close to you. If you are in a busy, hectic environment then peer reviews and proactive action are required because the consequences of missing something close are not only costly but embarrassing.

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Posted by Dr. James Brown in accountability, Discpline, Leadership Training.


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