Thursday, June 09, 2011

Systems Systems Systems

I examined an organization that was inadvertently designed to be inefficient and ineffective. Many of the operating assumptions held by its management team were dependent upon the organization having a reasonable system instead of one that foiled progress. As a result, the management team members - at least those team members who wanted progress - were frustrated.

Their tendency was to blame some of the other members or upper management. All were trapped, however, in an intricate web that had been spun over the years. The organization, to use a famous line, was getting the results it was designed to get and the results were poor.

A major turning point arrived when we were able to identify the chokepoints. One in particular had a extremely negative impact on a large number of operations.

So what happened? I'll report back. The patient is still in the Intensive Care Unit.


Rick Knowles said...

Without systems, repeating success is simply dumb luck. With systems, the people using them have to be fearlessly willing to gut them and try something completely different for better results - especially if there's a bottleneck somewhere. My favorite old book on bottlenecks is The Goal by Goldratt. A former boss assigned it years ago and the lessons were so eye-opening that it totally changed my approach in evaluating operations.

Bob said...

Hmmm, isn't this most of the public service, or am I being too cynical?

Michael Wade said...


"The Goal" remains one of the great sleeper best-seller.


There are some departments where your cynicism would be insufficient.