Organizational Effectiveness: Washing Tinfoil

I recently came home late from a long day hoping I might be graced with leftovers for dinner. Unfortunately, my wife was gone and frankly, her idea of leftovers is the last half of a bag of popcorn anyway (she comes from a long line of culinary-impaired Irish Catholics). As I pulled a pan out to make a rib-sticking concoction, I noticed something that I’ve seen before that always makes me laugh — a piece of very ragged, used tinfoil that my wife had washed.

I get the “reuse” thing. I resole my dress shoes. I buy into recycling. Hell, in college I used to have my brother — a gearhead who always had nice vehicles — save his used oil so I could pour it into my 1968 Chevy Malibu that got about 10 miles per gallon … of oil, that is, not gas! However, taking the time to wash crumpled, torn, stained tinfoil strikes me as a bit outlandish.

As I contemplated this spotless tinfoil, I thought of a recent meeting I had with a CEO about one of his team members who was clearly a misfit. Coaching, warnings, mentoring, cajoling, training and screaming hadn’t had the desired effect. The CEO was washing tinfoil. Sometimes the recycle bin is your best option for bad ideas and bad employees. No intent to be caustic, but start the year by asking yourself, “What ideas or people am I carrying around that should be recycled?”


Todd Ordal is President of Applied Strategy®. Todd helps CEOs achieve better financial results, become more effective leaders and sleep easier at night. He is a former CEO and has led teams as large as 7,000. Todd is the author of, Never Kick a Cow Chip On A Hot Day: Real Lessons for Real CEOs and Those Who Want To Be(Morgan James Publishing, 2016). Connect with Todd on LinkedIn, Twitter, call 303-527-0417 or email todd@toddordal.com.

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