Measure Twice, Cut Once

By Robin Schooling posted 11-15-2012 09:51


I am, by no stretch of the imagination, a ‘handy’ person. I’m not into crafts or sewing or building stuff out of wood or metal. The last time I participated in any sort of carpentry-activity was in 7th grade Shop Class when we got to use jigsaws and other fancy power tools to make holiday presents for our parents. I can, however, sew on a button. And once upon a time I actually made some curtains.

But even in the absence of any sort of crafty-skills I’ve always been a fan of the old adage “measure twice, cut once” and my idea of helping Mr. S. when he’s doing a household project is to stand around and remind him to do just that. Which, I’m sure, thrills him to no end. Of course in my mind I’m doing him a favor – obviously it’s a necessity for a craftsman to verify measurements and be accurate before lopping off a piece of wood or metal. If he doesn’t double-check before cutting he may have to do it all over again – thus wasting materials, money and time.

It’s a concept that also comes into play in the workplace – and certainly in the day to day work we do in Human Resources. There are numerous occasions when we’re faced with the need to measure twice before taking an action:

  • When we work to develop the appropriate workplace policies that align with our specific organization’s values (as opposed to just copying policies from a colleague or another organization)
  • As we evaluate and implement the appropriate development programs that will deliver the desired impact to our organization (and not merely conducting training-for-the-sake-of-conducting-training)
  • When we align the strategic plan for our HR Department with the strategic plan of the organization (mind-blowing…)

All of these things take time, dedication and focus – measuring, not once, but twice. There may be more research, more planning and more evaluation. We may need to go back to the original plans to gather more data. We may need to confer with others or rethink our original design. And then, only then, do we implement – making that one cut.

Measure twice, cut once.

I like it.

(this post originally ran over at the HR Schoolhouse)