5 Ways to Solve the Dung Fly Problem

Teams and organizations always have a few members who leave smelly droppings everywhere they go and wonder why everything stinks. Sometimes it’s leaders.

Dung fly leaders:

#1. Kill momentum by bringing up distracting issues. While others work to make things better, dung flies walk around asking, “What about that terrible problem over there?”

#2. Love talking about what others should do.

#3. Celebrate briefly, if at all. Something’s always wrong. Nothing’s good enough for dung fly leaders.

#4. Attract dung flies. People who love turds hang with turd lovers.

#5. Appear to be nice. Dung flies gain a hearing by appearing to care. Actually they’re haters.

5 ways to solve the dung fly problem:

#1. Shift percentages. Dung flies talk about problems 90% of the time and solutions 10% of the time. Everywhere they go they look for stink, create stink, and leave stink.

If dung fly leaders weren’t focused on stink, they wouldn’t know what to do. Dealing with crap makes them feel powerful. 

What if leadership’s job was fueling positive energy and not getting buried neck deep in cow plops and road apples?

Think of culture as the aroma of your organization. The things you repeatedly talk about determine what you smell like.

#2. Teach people to talk about what they want. Explore problems briefly. Adopt a solution-finding orientation. Dung flies dig into caca.

#3. Ask people to talk about next imperfect steps, not the droppings of the past. “Let’s generate four possible steps forward and choose one.” Dung flies love talking about what should have been.

#4. Honor positive people. Confront dung flies.

#5.Challenge dung flies to celebrate, affirm, and appreciate for an entire day. Forbid them from any judging, complaining, or negative communication. Repeat tomorrow. And so on.

Bonus: Make it a rule that you only open your mouth to make something better.

What are some common behaviors of dung flies?

How might leaders solve the dung fly problem?