We spend more time on preparing for doing than in doing. That would be good if we were just talking about preparing for action. Preparatory work is the key to a successful action. Ask lawyers, architects or the military.
But we in the organization may have elevated this to the highest level of sophistication. We spend a lot of time thinking of doing, preparing for doing, presenting what we are planning to do, reviewing the plans for doing, obtaining the permission for doing and, who knows, presenting again a Strategic Plan for Doing (which when approved at the highest level, will descend back to the troops)
The entire system and sequence of events looks like a massive rehearsal exercise. The organization literally goes into rehearsal mode for the majority of time.
You may argue that in a ‘doer organization’ populated by doers and run by doers (and a great percentage of my clients could fall into this category), this is not the case and the problem, if any, may be just the opposite: not much critical thinking and action, 1,2,3, results. But in reality, the same sequence takes place, just very fast. Or faster.
The issue is simply one of airtime. If we spend most of the time thinking of doing and preparing for doing, our competences will grow and grow in the area of thinking of doing and preparing for doing. We will become proficient in Rehearsal Management, not on outcomes. When an organization reaches this strategic capability, Rehearsal Management, people apply the full system to anything, small problem, big problem, small action, big action. They are so good at preparing, that preparing is what they do best.
Again, this is not an argument against good preparation. But the Thorough Preparation Argument, often hides over-analysis, and over-analysis often hides risk aversion. Risk aversion in turn may hide lack of confidence, or fear of failure, or avoiding mistakes. Carry on? Avoiding mistakes may hide preventing getting your fingers burnt and end up like Peter, ‘leaving the company to spend more time with his family’.
A super-prepared organization that thrives on rehearsal may not be a thorough and solid thinking organization, but a dysfunctional one. Maybe.
The healthiest thing to do is to literally map the activities and sequences that took you from A to B, and attach time to them. It may be revealing.
Defenders of ‘the logic of things’ will argue that everything has a process that needs to be followed if one wants to be efficient. This is not against any logic. On the contrary. However, I will bring in Mr Einstein once more. Recently whilst in Berlin, I came across a greeting card in a bookshop. Under a silhouette of Albert, it reads: ‘Logic will get you from A-Z; imagination will get you everywhere’.
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