Why does LO stop? LO17981

J.C. Lelie (janlelie@wxs.nl)
Mon, 04 May 1998 23:09:31 -0700

Replying to LO17963 --

Hi Chris (and Rick)

All my working life (in automation and logistics, and now in Management of
Change) i've been fascinated by the question: "why does continuous
improvement (a.k.a. learning organisation) stop?". Well, over all, it
doesn't, we continuously improve, but it behaves in chaotic ways. So
locally i see change, which might be labeled improvement followed by decay
(or stagnation). Or then again change, which might be labelled failure,
followed by decay (or stagnation). And in the long run, we're all dead.

So, to draw an analogy, it might be that organisations, like their real
world counterparts, organisms, behave according to the old tune of the
four seasons: in winter nothing happens, then spring (what does "to spr"
mean?) lot's of promisses, then summer, growth, and then the high time of
harvest and autumn, giving way to winter again. So, to take a longer view,
it might seem that organisms, go through a number of these cycles, only to
create offspring and dy. And these families of organisms remain the same,
generations after generations. Or not? Isn't there some evolution? There
is! Aha.

There might be evolution of organisations also. So perhaps, an
organisation has to develop itself through a number of stages, some growth
stages and a (greater) number of seasons. And, like in organisms, the, how
is it called, hmhmgenesis recaptures hmhmgenesis, the growths stages have
to recapture the previous forms, like the stages in Henry Mintzbergs books
(structure in fives). At every transition however, a mutation might occur
(a new manager, another fad, a wrong product, an angry customer) and at
every stage not the "best" solution might survive, but the solution best
adapted to the current environment (so in a classical, functional
managerial world MS-Dos survives because it signals trust (IBM) to
decision makers, while in a creative world, an Apple might have
dominated). Always remember that a bad solution (or fix) to the right
problem wins from the best solution solving the wrong problem (which might
become the right problem later on, perhaps just because of this rule, but,
hey, there is no justice in evolution). To me, this also implies that
succesful organisations will require a number of different leadership
styles, a rich amalgame of employees, a varied set of policies in somewhat
the right sequence and an antidote to success.

Intentionally routing your self by the paths of the least resistance,
requires skills, experience, courage and luck. Routing an organisation
through a sea of trouble (or a desert of sand, or a swamp like The
Netherlands) to the promissed land of Learning Organisation is still a
combination of courage and luck. In my opinion, we are just becoming aware
of these processes, so it is not yet possible to make intentional change
really possible. But we're learning at an unprecedented pace.

Take a break,

Jan Lelie

Drs J.C. Lelie CPIM (Jan)
LOGISENS - Sparring Partner in Logistical Development -
Mind@Work - est. 1998 - Powering Your Creative Mind  
+ (31) 70 3243475 Fax: idem GSM: + (31) 654685114

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