Augustine of Hippo, Saint Augustine in the Christian world, was very clear with his plea. He had a good idea of the destination, but wanted to postpone the journey a little bit. We have many Augustines in our organizations. Here are some management statements of the Augustine type:
We need to switch from product-centric to customer-centric. But not yet! Products are selling nicely (and we love costumers anyway) so we’ll get there some day. Soon.
We need to change this performance management system that has been in place for many years that everybody hates. But not yet! It does the trick, and we have spent a lot of time and money on it.
We really need to tackle culture. But not yet! Let’s have all the people and processes and all the pieces in place first. First things first. Culture is later. And it’s going to be long and difficult. And I am not sure what it means, anyway.
We need to review our structure which has become a bit of a monster. But not yet! Maybe it’s not that bad, and I can’t even begin to face the hassle that this will involve.
We really need to address the behaviour of those Super-Salesmen we have who are so incredibly arrogant and toxic to our teams. But not yet! They are bringing good revenues month after month. We’ll do it at a later stage.
We need to address our overweighed executive compensation and bonus system that is veering towards the un-ethical. But not yet! Stakeholders here have not made any noise, and we would be upsetting so many high fliers.
We need to tackle our Global Ethics so that our business practices in the Third World are in line with our corporate values. But not yet! There are no complaints of misconduct. Nothing is broken and we need to be a bit flexible with Developing Countries. Cultures are different.
We need to look deeper into the behaviours of our guys on the trading floor. But not yet! Some of them are incredibly creative and worth a fortune. They will go somewhere else any way. Besides, try to justify that to my boss.
We need to do lots of uncomfortable things to deal with questionable practices. But not yet! Because nothing is damaged, and we are making the numbers quarter after quarter.
The Jewish religious leader Hillel the Elder, around 10AD, in ‘Ethics of the Fathers’ said: ‘If I am not for myself, who is for me? And when I am for myself, what am ‘I’? And if not now, then when?” He is the real father of the ‘And if not now, then when?’
Many people in our modern organizations may say: First of all, Mr Hillel, you have too many questions. But, to your last one, the answer is ‘Not Yet’!.