Over inclusiveness paralysis occurs as a side effect of good intentions. The intentions are usually democratic, egalitarian, based on respect for others, listening to all, involve many.
There is a myth. One that people in organizations don’t like to hear. The myth says that to be part of something ( a culture programme, a change, an initiative) people must be personally involved. And we add with a typical business dialect the word ‘own it’. So people need to ‘own it’, or it won’t work. And to own it, people need to be involved. So we create legions of people involved in things when they shouldn’t (or don’t want to) but feel the need to be ‘part of it’ (at the very least, just in case it’s something that could affect them). Between being reasonably inclusive and pathologically over inclusive, there is a very fine line that many organizations are happy to cross on behalf of good management. Actually. It is bad management.
Getting involved, ‘own it’, and ‘part of it’ are not the same.
Outside work, we don’t get systematically involved in all things of life around us. Kids sport clubs are running without monthly reports and weekly meetings with parents. Once elected, local government runs the place without weekly checking with all constituencies and party interests, although these would have access to officials if they want to. In my family we don’t have evening meetings to check upon milestones and make sure that we all ‘are on the same page’.
I would suggest that most things that work have in fact limited inclusiveness, not more.
Not in business. We seem compelled to make sure that everybody ‘gets it’ and all possible constituencies have been invited to the meeting. Outlook calendars are booked until February 2021. Webex, video conferences and conference calls proliferate, attended by people who have barely red the briefing. (Occasionally I see healthy multi-conference calls run as a sharp check-in between people. They are the exception).
Presenting to somebody who has to present to somebody so he can present to the boss is still normal in may organizations despite the absurdity of the chain, well known for decades. Being ‘back-to-back’ in meetings has become an alpha-male and alpha-female sign of self-importance. Organizational life becomes a colossal information recycling system. Busy-ness is a badge of honour and a sign of illness, all in one.
Useless over inclusiveness is still pervasive. It’s always, always, a sign of bad leadership.
PS. I am in my 7 out of 10 pathologies. Which is a bit depressing. Don’t worry, there is also coming a series of 10 very healthy practices, once I get the pathologies out of the way. Don’t despair.