Draining the swamp

Draining the swamp is a common expression in continuous improvement. Problems remain hidden underwater in a swamp. Once it’s drained, the real landscape comes to light. In this analogy,  a few problems may be sticking up above the water. But once the brackish water is gone, you’ll probably find a slimy mess.

I’ve been cycling by a real swamp on Water Row in Sudbury, Massachusetts for the last couple of years. The area started out as just as wetlands. Then it began to fill with water. After a while, the water had a layer of light iridescent green on it. And the smell of decay permeated the air. Here’s a picture of it:

Whenever it rained, this smelly water would flood the road.




Then one day I was riding by and saw this:

swamp drained

The swamp had been drained. Then I saw men with heavy equipment. Apparently, they had to wait several years to get permission from the Feds to drain the swamp by removing a beaver dam, as the swamp was located in a National Wildlife Refuge.  There had been a huge grate over the drainage spot that was supposed to keep the beavers out, but these clever animals just built on top of it.

Here was a real swamp before and after being drained. Just like work situations, swamps can get larger and worsen over time. You may not realize what is actually under the water, especially after it becomes covered in green slime. Then, mosquitoes, some of which are carrying EEE (Eastern Equine Encephalitis), make there home in the swamp, which is now home to beavers. In the work swamp, industrious employees, like the beavers, build their fiefdoms and turf battles ensue. As the swamp becomes dank and infested and work processes convoluted, it may seem that it was always this way. Processes happen, but no one knows where they came from. No one can remembers the swamp the way it was, without the smell and green water. People get used to the inefficiency. When the swamp is drained, problems are exposed and then can be addressed.




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