Smart Thinking

The Cookie Licker Anti Pattern

The Cookie Licker Anti Pattern. Cookie Lickers grab tasks they might want to do, but don’t have time to do, the ability or experience to do.

A GREEDY SIBLING has gorged themselves on cookies, you have designs on the last one. Anticipating your move, they lift and lick it, claiming it, but with neither appetite or need. The manner of its claim renders ‘ownership absolute’. The Cookie Licker asserts ownership, but the cookie goes uneaten.

Cookie Licker Anti Pattern

Beware the Cookie Licker

Anti Pattern Name: The Cookie Licker

Type: Behavioural

Management and Organisational Behaviour

Problem: The Cookie Licker grab tasks they might want to do, but don’t have time to do, the ability or experience to do, or actively wish to prevent others from doing. This can be deliberate or accidental. Either way, what they have claimed isn’t undertaken by others and therefore not implemented. Individuals, teams and competitors are all potential Cookie Lickers.

Context: Planning, task distribution, work-share.

Forces: Enthusiasm for a task, but zero probability of being able to deliver it. Protectionism and empire building are behavioural problems which lead to Cookie Licking. Squabbling competitors will Cookie Lick, just as rival siblings.

Resulting Context: Task claimed but never undertaken.

Solution(s): Collaboration, rigour in planning and work-distribution, careful workload management, time-boxed ownership (i.e. deliver or relinquish), consequences for failure.

Gods of Management: The Changing Work of Organisations

Further Reading on Organisational Behaviour

By Steve Nimmons

Steve is a Certified European Engineer, Chartered Engineer, Chartered Fellow of the British Computer Society, Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, Royal Society of Arts, Linnean Society and Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. He is an Electric Circle Patron of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, a Liveryman and Freeman of London and serves on numerous industry panels. He is a member of Chatham House, the Royal United Services Institute and the Chartered Institute of Journalists.