Good metaphors help putting things in perspective. My dear colleague Jonathan frequently uses the wonderful term “hospital pass”.
What Is a Hospital Pass?
This term comes from rugby (Yes, I’m currently living in New Zealand). It means you pass the ball on to your team mate in such a way that if he catches it, it’s almost sure he’ll be tackled and will get injured. Which would mean he would end up in the hospital.
A hospital pass is a bit too low or slightly out of reach which causes the recipient to become very vulnerable when accepting it.
Or to cite wikipedia:
“a pass that subjects the recipient to heavy contact, usually unavoidable, from an opposing player. The term may be applied to passes between team-mates in several sports”
Projects and the Hospital Pass
Unfortunately this is something that happens in projects very often. When team members need to hand over a task to each other, they sometimes slightly under deliver. At first sight, the team member that receives the task, doesn’t notice. But as soon as he starts working on the input he received, he notices that it is not up to standards. He needs to rework a lot of it, or sometimes has to start over again. Or even worse, he has to give the task back, which delays everything and puts even more pressure on the process.
This does not only happen between team members, but also between different teams, or between clients and suppliers. And it’s one of the most counterproductive things around.
Strategies for Coping with Hospital Passes
First of all, treat others the way you would want to be treated yourself. So don’t give hospital passes. Always assess – before handing things over – if your work is in a state you would be happy to receive it in yourself.
Secondly, when you receive a hospital pass, try to acknowledge and identify it as soon as possible. Just by asking yourself the question: do I have all information I need? Is this in a good shape for me to work from?
If not the case, just say no to that pass. Tell why you will not take the ball, and communicate about it. It will save you and the people you work with a lot of time, will diminish frustrations and will increase overall productivity.
Photo by Fearless Fred