Organizational Reform Is Like Losing Weight

My last blog entry painted a mental image of the power of a finely tuned organization by using the metaphor of an engine that powers production. In this entry I will examine organizational performance and tomes of “quick fix” solutions on this topic. It is not complicated to fix organizations but there are no “magic bullets,” In this way, organizational reform is like losing weight.

The worlds of business management, leadership, and organizational reform are awash in ideas, tips, gimmicks, "how to" advice and counsel of every imaginable kind.  Go to the business, leadership, and management sections of Barnes and Noble and you will find shelf after shelf, hundreds of linear feet of advice and guidance.  Virtually all of it is aimed at a discrete issue, or offers a quick fix that promises to solve every problem under the sun.  It is what I think of as the diet fad of management and leadership; "just try this special pill, item of exercise equipment, special routine for 10 minutes a day, eat only grapefruit for 90 days.”  You name it; it’s out there.

It plays to our worst instincts to want the quick fix; the easy way out, the no effort solution, the magic bullet, the easy answer to our weight loss and appearance needs.  But none of it works, really.  Maybe for a few days or a week, but over time, we are always right back to where we started, or worse.  Unhappy with our lack of progress, starting over, with no answers, and maybe even farther behind than when we began.  It is the same with the fad of business, management and leadership reform.  They work the same way as our diet fads; temporary fixes for persistent organizational issues that require time, attention, discipline and effort.

So what's the answer?  How do we “lose weight” in our organizations?  How do we create and maintain lasting brilliant businesses?  We basically lose weight by eating less (and better) and burning more calories through activity and exercise.  At the top level it's that simple.  Eat less and exercise more.  But we know that's not easy to accomplish.  It takes dedication, discipline, an understanding of the details of nutrition and exercise, a constant attention to our health and well being, proper rest, emotional health, abstinence from harmful practices and food and drink. Taken together, it requires hundreds of small and large contributors PRACTICED OVER A LIFETIME to be successful.  It's not complex though; it's easy to understand.  But there are no quick fixes, no easy way out, no effortless solutions, and no magic bullets for our dieting challenges.  It takes understanding, a lifetime of dedication, and a system that works for each of us to be successful.

And so it is with business, management and leadership reform.  There are no quick fixes, no easy way out, no effortless solutions, no magic bullets for our business, management and leadership reform challenges.  It takes understanding, a lifetime of dedication, and a system that works for each of us to be successful.  It's a life style, not a quick fix.

So where do we start?  As I said at the beginning there is a lot to this business of business.  How do we understand, focus on what matters, and begin in a coherent way that isn't another quick fix?  I'll tell you all of that and more, over time.  But first let's start with the basic building blocks of brilliant businesses:

  • People
  • Leadership
  • Organization and Processes
  • Industry-Specific Business Tactics, Techniques and Procedures

All of these acting together create an organizational culture; the habits, attitudes, and practices that determine performance.  In my next post, I'll begin to unpack each building block and examine them in detail.  They are the large pillars of our brilliant business lifestyle, each with many components, techniques, and methods.  None of it is complex; all easy to do. However, like our healthy lifestyle, it takes dedication, discipline, an understanding of the details, constant attention, abstinence from harmful practices, and hundreds of small and large contributors PRACTICED OVER A LIFETIME

Keith Stalder, #3

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