‘Continuous improvement’ is part of the management furniture and something that, at a face value, one could not disagree with.
But when the (operating system of the) organization becomes dysfunctional in may aspects, be unnecessary complexity, or slowness or, say, inwards looking, the identification and fixing of some pieces may not be the solution.
People tend to fix, or attempt to fix, the obvious, and often the easy things. Which may be OK, but may also give an impression of strategic fixing, whilst it is in fact changing the oil of the failing car.
This comfort on the activity (‘we are doing something about it’) may be so strong as to trigger a relax in the urgency to seriously look at the whole thing in depth. We love ‘activities’ and ‘initiatives’ (and a project management system behind) and we get carried away with them.
At some point in the dysfunctionality, what you need is to create a ‘new agenda’ so strong that swallows any previous deficiencies. You need to put yourself ahead of the game before people try to change the oil of the car (and look at the procurement of oil, the type of oil, and the available case studies of the use of that oil elsewhere) and question if you need a new car, or a car at all.
Most corporate dysfunctionalities are self-inflicted. Many of them are not even fully perceived by people inside. And if they do, to try to tackle it may be like asking the arsonists to be the fire brigade as well. Doable, but probably not the best of ideas.
By all means, tackle known deficiencies but take also a hard look at the fabric behind. Fixing a hole in a dysfunctional super tank may be dangerous, complacent and a starting point towards the sinking.
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