Hot Potato Principle! It is worth to try in your organisation

Posted on 21 July, 2016

Must be wondering after noticing the term in heading? It might be one of the strange things, you may come across today as well! Rather than starching things, let me dive into it's concept.

Let's imagine that you have picked up a hot potato. Try to hold it for as long as possible, and than pass it to next person. You won't be able to hold it for long enough, and will get rid of it as soon as possible. Because it's way too hard to hold as it will be intense hot! This concept are used in several other scenario as well, such as,

It's a Child's play (well, I'm not talking about that 1988 movie), the child who caught last with object, will be the loser! There is one famous case related to this, a felony of fake cash. If you google regarding this principle, 9 out of 10 times, you will come across with this only example, where a grandmother takes cash from bank and gives it to her grandson. And when grandson goes to deposit that to same bank, they found this cash as fake! Bank takes no responsibility that those cash were withdrawn from their bank, and blame to that kid, as he was the last person to caught with fake cash!

It's also one of the fine teaching methods to students, where they pass information board from one to another, adding new information into it! This helps students to increase their knowledge on particular topic.

This also reminds a famous phrase of a famous person, Harry Truman. President of United State.

The buck stops here!

The perception behind it was to mention that President is supposed to finalized all the decision, and will also be responsible for it as well! Our topic is has more concern with the second half of it. 

We can also state it as a management concept, to get rid of dilemma in fixing buck for any working flow of organisation. 

For any organisation, it's very much required thing that whatever they are supposed to do, has to done in given time frame. But when stuff goes through hierarchy of different responsible persons, or departments, chances are quite high that it could miss the bus! So it's very much important for higher authority to stay informed that currently work is in which state and who is current responsible person. So without wasting time, they can communicate with right person.

Trace the weak link :

Rather than putting this thing on manual, it's always better to make such process automatic in kind of centralized software for organisation like ERP. As we all know that in large organisation, work is distributed in many phases, and in many departments as well. In such case, each phase can have predefined time frame, and in that way before starting work, one can get approx time to get things done. And if, due to any reason, things cannot move ahead as expected, from software, management can trace it and find the weak link. Let's take an example of it.

In an organisation, they have their own flow to mange purchase/invoice/delivery related things. As it goes through each state, next responsible person is being set by system, based on custom algorithm. In this way, management can easily trace that at which point of time, things been assigned to next responsible person, and if things are not moving ahead, they can contact to current responsible person, get details and can take necessary steps to get things done!

Help management to calculate approx time frame of work :

For each milestone, the responsible person supposed to provide a time frame related to their work, and need to feed those data into system. And base on those data, management can determine total time to finish cycle of work. Also based on priority, they can adjust work distribution in such a way that each of their utilized their resource for maximum outcome. Again if you could have noticed, centralized system like ERP plays a key role, which holds all the data and makes user answerable for their work.

Speeding up your process :

It's all about setting mindset of organisation. Whenever any work/task are assigned to related person, they need to get the job done as quickly as possible and move it to next authority, just like they have received a hot potato. It does not mean that they do not set priority of work and start working on whichever work they have given last! As priority has been set, based on that they need to perform their work and get job done, that too with good pace.

Role of ERP in this :

If need to implement this principle into small company, things can be done manually. But for large organisation, it do require kind of an ERP system, which holds all the details. With given data, management can also perform analysis department wise, as well as person to person. Through which it can become substantially easy to identify person with their performance. And based on that related action can be taken, to make things fall in right places.

In general life, we also face such situation, where it's become virtually impossible to find exact responsible person, as every time, one transfer responsibility to other! We can say that it's a whole year of celebration for them of "Blame someone else day", which falls at year's first Friday, where date is 13th (as it was on 13th May 2016). While using this principle, in a positive manner, can really benefit organisation. Though like mention previously, it's all about mindset of an individual. And if those person can be identified by management, they can utilize them to get better result. The reason why I am inspired to write this article is because at Emipro, using this technique of management, we did get good result in our project management & customer support system. Hope you may also get expected outcome!


Kunal Pathak , Odoo Project Manager
Odoo Blog

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