‘When the only thing you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail’
If you have a predetermined view of the performance of people in the organization in the form of a Bell curve or normal distribution, you will allocate people to that distribution following predetermined percentages. For example, there must be 10% bottom, 10% exceptional etc. You will force your reality to fit a Bell curve. Many organizations and HR systems do that.
If you have a ‘Gallup 12-only questions’ to measure Employee Engagement, and this is how many organizations do this measurement, you will look at Employee Engagement through the ‘Gallup-12,’ and will tend to ignore everything else. A Gallup score will be your employee engagement reality.
If you have a routine of corporate road-shows in the form of ‘Town Hall Meetings’, and this mechanism is well established, you will fit your communication strategy into the Town Hall road shows, with perhaps little concern about their effectiveness. The number of Town Halls will be the measurement of your communication.
If you have a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system in place, bought and installed at a huge expense, you may end up equating customer focus to using the CRM. You will use the language of the CRM as the language of customer focus.
If you have a Procurement system in place, perhaps designed to source your engineering support needs, you may end up using it to procure anything including a leadership development or change management programme, even if these use Martian language to the eyes of the engineering procurement people.
If you have a sales performance management system focused on numerical targets, this is what you will aim at and talk about, even if you ask your sales people to care about customer insights (there may not be a ‘customer insight’ box in the system)
If somebody has made a decision about restructuring in Business Units, all aspects of the reorganization will be done to fit the decision, whether it is feasible, or reasonable to ‘Business Unit-ize’ everything.
If you have a heavy language, heavy narrative and heavy ethos of ‘problem solving’, you will do everything to find solutions. You will become proficient at dealing with problems, and you will tend to generate more of them, because you are so good at it.
I certify that all the examples above are real and have come up in my consulting work.
If the only thing you have is a hammer, everything will look like a suitable nail. Check your hammers, the ones you have and the ones you contract out. Make a good inventory of them.