Searching for Permit A38: Quick Learnings to Facilitate Effective Management and Collaboration

brown wooden bird ornament during daytime

A colleague has recently compared a predicament in which we found ourselves with Asterix’s attempts to get Permit A38 in “The Place That Sends You Mad.” This got me thinking: there seem to be some valuable lessons to be learned from our lovable heroes’ struggles.

In the whimsical world of Asterix and Obelix, the search for Permit A38 will take our Gauls on a quest to “The Place That Sends You Mad.” The cult 1976 film, “The Twelve Tasks of Asterix” depicts the two characters’ interminable search for the mysterious permit, revealing fascinating analogies with best practices in management and with the crucial aspects of responsibility, ownership, and leadership.

As soon as Asterix and Obelix step foot into “The Place That Sends You Mad,” it becomes evident that they’re doomed for failure. Their goal, initially to obtain Permit A38, quickly turns into an overwhelming and nearly unachievable challenge – much like in corporate environments where teams often encounter complicated projects without clear goals, resources, or strategies for reaching success.

The Futility of the Quest: A Set-Up for Failure

Lack of Clarity

In Asterix’s quest, our heroes were given little clarity regarding goals and expectations. Similarly, managers often assign teams on missions without providing clear goals, expectations, or role clarity; confusion, anger, and ultimately failure could arise from this scenario.

Lack of Resources

Asterix and Obelix’s failure is due to inadequate resources, as they lack the required knowledge and tools for navigating bureaucracy effectively. In business terms, teams often fail when they lack sufficient resources, training, or support to meet their goals.

Bureaucratic Red Tape

Asterix and Obelix’s struggles against bureaucratic red tape mirror the challenges associated with corporate bureaucracy, such as excessive red tape that hinders advancement, limits creativity, or creates feelings of insignificance among teammates.

One striking characteristic of Asterix and Obelix’s journey was the inability to accept responsibility or ownership from those they met, from the manic-depressive guide to indifferent civil servants. This behavior is often witnessed within work environments where teams or even leaders demonstrate no ownership for their decisions and actions taken, sometimes to disastrous effects.

A Lack of Ownership and Responsibility

The Vacuum of Responsibility

In “The Place That Sends You Mad,” characters have perfected the art of deflecting responsibility. Just like some of your colleagues, you say? A workplace environment marked by blame-shifting and nonaccountability is detrimental to morale and can delay progress.

Impact on Team Morale

Asterix and Obelix’s anger and disillusionment escalate with every encounter of indifference in the workplace. A lack of responsibility could harm team morale, trust, and motivation and ultimately hinder achievement.

Improving Ownership and Responsibility in Teams

Leaders can avoid repeating Asterix and Obelix’s harsh experiences by taking steps that foster accountability and ownership in their teams.

Effective Communication

Leaders must communicate their objectives, expectations, and goals clearly in order to prevent confusion or anger among team members. Properly conveyed messages will ensure everyone knows their roles and responsibilities effectively and reduce the potential for any misinterpretations or frustration.

Resource Allocation

To ensure teams can effectively achieve their efforts, leaders need to ensure access to sufficient tools, resources, and expertise. A strong support system enables everyone to take ownership of their work.

Encourage Ownership

Leaders and people managers can instill a sense of ownership within their team by acknowledging and rewarding individuals or groups for their accountability and encouraging team members to take pride in their job and be responsible for their actions.

Lead by Example

Leaders must demonstrate responsibility and ownership over their actions and decisions, setting an example for their team. By being accountable and responsible, leaders can set an excellent example that permeates the organization.

Promote Collaboration

Team members take ownership of projects they work on and help each other towards both mutual and individual success when their leaders and managers promote themselves collaboration, teamwork, and cooperation.

Ultimately, the futile search for Permit A38 serves as a wacky yet profound metaphor for management problems and what happens when we lack ownership and accountability. Just as Asterix and Obelix were set for failure in their baffling mission, team members may experience similar difficulties without clarity, resources, and an environment where accountability and ownership are celebrated and respected. By implementing thoughtful and relevant strategies, leaders can create an environment where accountability and ownership are cherished and respected, resulting in higher team morale and a higher chance of achieving goals. Success usually depends on the capability to handle the maze of complexity using responsibility, ownership, and determination – both in Gaul and in the workplace.

Photo by Flash Dantz on Unsplash