Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sensing Success

Peter Drucker once said that well-run organizations are boring because they have anticipated problems and acted accordingly. The poorly-run places are exciting and chaotic. Their inefficiency makes them too busy for any system.

I believe that, with rare exception, a person of reasonable perception can walk through an organization and within an hour have an accurate sense of the place's performance. What you see is usually what you get. That's one reason why the so-called minor items aren't that minor. They are signals to insiders and outsiders alike of what the organization emphasizes and what it neglects. You can almost hear a well-run place purr and you can sense the silent screams of the bad organizations.

This does not mean that a baroque appearance is a sign of superior performance. That ornate emphasis is a warning sign of misplaced priorities. A group that tries too hard to be impressive will only succeed in conveying the impression that it believes appearing impressive is important. It will not be impressive.

Knowing the difference is vital.

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