A characteristic trait of dysfunctional organizations is that of problems that are allowed to exist tacitly. As counterintuitive as it sounds it is the norm in most large organizations where competing perspectives collide.
Couple of high-level reasons seem to contribute to the state of messed up affairs : Business Reasons, Political Alignments, Incompetence. Allow me to profile these three villains.
- Business Reasons : This comes in a couple of flavors. Existing customers make it impossible to change implementations. Or the cost of change exceeds the revenue or business value delivered.
- Political Alignments: I use this bucket to group the following traits. One group does not want a competing perspective to see the light of day. Or wants the existing process/system to fail. Or just plain self-interest dictates they obey the law of self-sustenance above that of the organization.
- Incompetence: This one must be obvious. Like a Deer in headlights, these types stand dazed at the oncoming situation. Instead of trying to understand the problem, they take up stock measures that have worked in the past and add another half-dozen nails to their coffins. Or drown themselves in inconsequential tasks, which make them look busy but adds nothing to the bottom line.
It is said that identifying the problem is half solving it. But these sorts of issues, especially the political alignment and power-plays is something that does not obey any logic beyond that of self-interest, so the means to solve these seem fairly limited.
But with the right amount of transparency and some creative noise-making it should be possible to get sensible messages to the right ears.
The current economic climate could be an added incentive for stakeholders to be open to unconventional approaches for long-standing problems.
In that spirit, my message to the people perched on top- The larger interests of the organization’s survival should take priority over concerns on whose perspective wins out.
Drive uncomfortable changes proactively. It is difficult to expose yourself as not being up to the task. But trust me, people will appreciate your willingness to learn and adapt.
The other option is for the markets to highlight your shortcomings in the most unflattering light. And that can never be pretty.