Beyond the Pale
Digital transformations, Agile adoptions, shifts in collective mindset, Marshall Model transitions and the like general proceed slowly, if at all. Why might this be? What slows or blocks the implementation of more effective ways working, more effective ways of meeting folks needs?
I have found that one of the biggest drags on implementing more effective strategies for getting folks’ needs met is the sheer inconceivability of the new strategies. Literally. unthinkable. And not only are these prospective, more effective ways of doing things inconceivable, they’re often also unmentionable, undiscussable and taboo, too.
Here’s a list of some of the kinds of new strategies I’m talking about:
- Using throughput accounting rather than cost accounting
- Delivering value as defined by the customer, rather than the supplier
- Defect prevention as a preferred alternative to testing
- Favouring slack and flow over utilisation and busywork
- Recruiting with humanity (conversations) rather than relying on CVs
- Funding new product initiatives incrementally rather than with a one-off budget allocation
- Incrementally trialling new product ideas in the market rather than one time “big launch”
- Attending to folks’ needs rather than acting as if we know what’s best for others
- Self-managing and self-organising teams
- Having teams “own” the product they’re working on, rather than a separate Product Owner
- Reducing or eliminating the command & control aspects of middle management roles
- Theory Y over theory X
- Adopting team-wide measures rather than measuring individuals
- Seeing people as emotional and social rather than logical and rational
- Eliminating extrinsic motivators in favour of cultivating intrinsic motivations
- Adopting whole systems measures rather than local measures
- Managing and optimising the whole business rather than managing and optimising each part
- Having folks set their own salaries and bonuses, rather than have remuneration decided by others
And so on…
Each of the above strategies promises to contribute to a more effective business, yet each of them is in itself often inconceivable, unacceptable, unthinkable and even undiscussable. In short, such new strategies are, at a given point in time, considered as beyond the pale.
The First Challenge
When considering Digital transformations, Agile adoptions, Marshall Model transitions and the like, our collective challenge, then, is to progressively broaden and deepen our tolerance and enthusiasm for discussing and embracing these new strategies.To move ourselves to a point where one, some or all of these new strategies is conceivable, discussable and acceptable. Only then can we begin to think about build a true consensus on a specific way forward.
And maybe organisational psychotherapy has a role to play in helping the organisation open itself up and start thinking and then talking about these “tough topics”.