I had a wisdom tooth removed some time ago. And it took some time to recover from the trauma. The pain before the extraction was excruciating. NOTHING could move that pain. Once the tooth was removed the pain had almost completely subsided. There was some pain still, but the remaining pain was not in the exact place where the extraction occurred. Rather, there was some residual pain and inflammation in the area nearby. Wisdom teeth are described as vestiges that were necessary in ancient human ancestors for properly chewing crass foods like roots and tough meat. As humans evolved, these third molars became obsolete as our diets evolved.
This extraction experience provided me with a timely reminder about extractions from an organization. In leadership and management, one will often find that there are situations (whether it be people, projects, or processes) that are contributing to a great deal of pain to the organization, but they have limited to no real function any longer. And as leaders and managers, we have to determine whether or not the pain is worth the price. This may lead one to determine that extraction is necessary for the overall health of “the body”. Although this may be the right call, leaders have to be prepared to deal with the residual pain and inflammation in nearby areas. Sometimes it is necessary to medicate that the inflammation. Other times, the swelling subsides if left alone.
Extraction is sometimes necessary and can contribute to good health. But it is imperative that the leader count the cost, diagnose the symptoms accurately, and perform extraction patience and precision.