Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay
It was the opening line of the email that caught my attention.
I don’t want to throw a wrench in this, but…
The accepted definition of this phrase or idiom “Throwing a Wrench into the Works” means to damage or change (something) in a way that ruins it or prevents it from working properly.
But that is not what was happening here.
They were not trying to damage or ruin the project.
Their wrench was an idea to improve the situation.
But sometimes the project is already moving forward, and we are afraid of Wrenches causing delay or disruption.
Sometimes we have invested in a strategy or direction, and we are afraid of Wrenches causing us to move or admit we may have to accept a sunk cost.
Sometimes the world has changed from when we started the initiative, and we are afraid of Wrenches causing us to start over and change course.
How about a new definition of what it means to Throw the Wrench.
To Throw the Wrench is to speak up and offer an alternative.
To Throw the Wrench is to express your reservation or concerns.
To Throw the Wrench is to help an organization from making a mistake (or further mistakes).
Maybe more than ever, we need you to Throw the Wrench.
As organizations, we need to listen to, learn from, foster, and encourage the Wrench Throwers.
We need the Wrench Throwers to speak up, offer ideas and alternatives, and let us know before we make large mistakes.
One idea to foster the kind of organization that encourages people to Throw that Wrench is to create a contest for the best Wrench Throw. How about prizes and a celebration of speaking up and offering alternatives.
My closing advice to all of you: Throw the Wrench.