From Here to Eternity
What Do You Want?
“Finding deficiencies and getting rid of them is not a way of improving the performance of the system. An improvement program must be directed at what you want, not at what you don’t want. And, determining what you do want requires redesigning the system, not for the future, but for right now, and asking yourself what would you do right now if you could do whatever you wanted to. If you don’t know what you would do if you could do what you wanted to do how could you ever know what you would do under constraints?”
~ Russell L. Ackoff
I work a lot with new folks. That is, teams and organisations that I have not worked with before, or for long.
One regular question I put to these folks is something like “where are you going?” As in, where would they like to be, what kind of future do they have in mind.
I have ceased to be surprised by the lack of coherent answers which ensue.
Most folks have no ides of what a “better future state” might look like, either in general, or specifically for them and their fellows.
I have found several reasons for this, including:
- Too busy on delivery stuff to think ahead
- Lack of motivation – no personal stake in the future
- Absence of support and encouragement from the wider organisation
- Lack of awareness of the possibilities inherent in a “better future”
- A disconnect between folks’ needs and their assumptions about possible futures
Does your troupe discuss your common future? Do you have any kind of picture – fuzzy or coherent – about the kind of development shop you’d like your shop to become? How broad is your picture? Does it stretch beyond your own personal future to encompass your team, your shop, your whole organisation? And how far ahead do you look – today, a month, a year, eternity?