Here are some questions to ask yourself about common organizational behavior.
- Rules are there for you. Does everyone help others in the organization achieve through proper channels? Short-cuts lead to bad mistakes.
- Passion is of utmost importance. Do people make time to share how the current task at hand effects them personally? Do they feel safe communicating their agreement even after a decision has been made?
- Two heads are better than one. Are simple decisions still taken as an opportunity to get input and feedback from others? Ideally from five or more people?
- It’s all interconnected Do we cross-check the impact on even the most seemingly unimportant and tangential issues? Complex systems have complex interactions.
- The devil is in the details. Are words in minutes, resolutions, mission statements, requirements, etc chosen carefully? Are they discussed until no other possible meaning can be accidentally read from them?
- The world is constantly changing Are old issues contantly being reviewed for their fitness in a rapidly changing world? Even matters decided in the last meeting can be cast in new light by the speed of modern change.
- Failure is not an option. Mistakes can be costly and lose people their jobs. Are people constantly reminding each other to be cautious and reasonable? Success may fade, but bad PR lives forever.
- There is no vacuum. Are people aware of the overarching goals of the organization? Is there discussion of whether your group is the appropriate source for this decision, or should it be elevated to those with a beter strategic understanding of the organization’s goals?
I’ve been thinking about this because I heard a song shuffle up on my iPod, but also because I’ve been discussing how organizations function with several folks in and around the Indy tech community. And some in other fields. And some discussing politics.
The list uses golf scoring, by the way. One or two isn’t bad. But If you’ve managed to score a perfect eight, your organization may be its own worst enemy. Wait, why am I saying that? Because those eight checkpoints are variants of an eight step list of how to sabotage an organization. Brought to you by the OSS (Office of Strategic Service), the precursor to the CIA, this list was developed to help occupied French and other nationalities slow the progress of the Axis war machine durring WWII. And no, I’m not the first to see this. See page 28 for the details.
There is a balance to be struck. But remember, the process that keeps you from making a decision and doing work is a process that is killing your organization.