A House Divided . . . Creates Sub-optimization

Sunday, March 1, 2009 by Tripp Babbitt
When I went to my first 4-day seminar that Dr. Deming conducted, he spoke about the interdependence of the components of any organization.  He compared an organization to an orchestra where the inter-dependencies were so great that an organization couldn’t have a hundred prima donnas trying to play solos.  They had to play together harmoniously to create a sound pleasing to the ear.  He believed that an organization had to work together and eliminate internal competition to achieve its purpose.  Each component had to contribute its best to the system and may be required to operate at a loss in order to optimize the whole.  This thinking is what to me is "systems thinking."

Too many organizations have individual, department and/or "team" goals that sub-optimize the performance of the system (organization).  Some pit one against the other thinking this is good management.  Thus creating a trail of winners and losers in its wake.  The name of the game is to create value and make money (in that order), not to win or lose like a football game.

Moving out of our current crisis will require new "systems" thinking in our leadership development and our organizational change management.  The consequences of not moving to systems thinking will be decreased status in the competitive world of business.

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