I was meeting two people at SingPost (Singapore Post) building when I had a sensation of something under my right foot. Thinking that perhaps something had gotten under my right foot, I looked down. Lo and behold, but the sole of my right shoe had decided to detach itself somewhat from the rest of the shoe! We were at the tail-end of our meeting, and I hobbled along looking for a shop where I might possibly get a pair of shoes or sandals as a temporary measure, since I was quite sure that there were no outlets for footwear in the vicinity, and I didn’t want to walk towards Joo Chiat to try and find one. So I settled for a pair of sandals from the NTUC (National Trades Union Congress) store at the basement of SingPost.
Earlier during the day, I happened to meet an expatriate who had a rather debilitating but non-lethal condition. When the condition manifested itself, she would be drained of energy and could take from half a day to a full week to recover! Doctors could not isolate the cause and she has had to live with her condition for a while. It reminded me of bottlenecks in manufacturing processes or in logistics. One small constriction could disable an entire organization!
With that in mind, as I looked at the sole of my right shoe, I realized that many of us, which includes many of our organizations, have “Sole Achilles Heels”. We don’t notice until that component, functioning so efficiently until now, decides to malfunction. It’s sort of like not noticing your little finger until you happen to crack it. Then you start to notice the reduction in strength, amongst other things. I didn’t think about the sole of my right shoe until it decided to get detached. Then I noticed how much it would be missed if it was no longer there.
Does your organization have Achilles Heels? Perhaps they are lurking in some processes. However, I rather suspect that they are more likely found in your hidden gems, your people whom you don’t notice until something goes wrong. Start appreciating those people before that sort of thing happens!