I love this picture because everyone’s washing up brush will look like this after a while. (scary enough, so will many toothbrushes…) It made me think about pressure in a team context.
A washing-up brush works, like any other brush, at the tip of the bristles. Too much pressure and you will not use the tip, the effective part of the brush, but the middle of the bristle. The result is that you have to scrub harder and harder to have any effect at all. Before you know it the brush is worn out.
In many teams pressure is used to get things done. Individuals or whole teams are put under pressure to achieve a result. This is good. Pressure makes things happen faster than they would happen without the pressure. When applying pressure, though, we have to be careful about the level of pressure. Whatever we are trying to achieve, pressure works when we use the tip of the bristle. Pushing harder and harder just because a little pressure works, is counterproductive. The added benefit of not applying too much is that the brush will last a lot longer too.
If you really need to apply more pressure (and you probably don’t), then try a different tool. Just like washing-up, the brush doesn’t tackle everything. Sometimes you need a scourer: different tool, different pressure.
If you were planning to apply some pressure today, consider the washing-up brush.