When Systems Fail, Should We Blame Individuals? The need for dynamic learning in organizationsNov 7th, 2010 | By steven_spear | Category: Featured Article, High Velocity Organizations
Systems fail and individuals get blamed. But should they, and how else to understand success and failure is the topic of two articles I’ve recently written, one on the Xconomy website, and the other, an article that appeared in the Lean Management Journal. I hope you enjoy both (links to both below).
Why blame the single person? Either they were too stupid to understand the consequences of their actions, some argue, or they were too greedy to care, others contend. We heard those denigrations attached to the BP well blowout, Toyota’s recalls, the mortgage market meltdown, and countless other recent events.
There is an alternative, more actionable, explanation.
How we’ve traditionally managed systems is inappropriate for modern times and we need a new approach, appropriate for the complexity of the work we do.
Once, “thinking our way to the right answer” might have been possible. Enough data run through the right model…PRESTO! the right decision.
We certainly educate that way. Finance—how to value decisions; accounting—how to track decisions. Even strategy, with its five forces model, emphasizes making the right decisions to move from weakness to strength.
We’re past a tipping point where decision making is sufficient.
The systems on which we depend and which we support are so complex—an incredible number of specialties having to be integrated and coordinated in intertwined, strongly interdependent ways—that thinking our way to the right answer simply is impossible.
Instead? We have to learn to learn; organizations have to learn to discover their ways to greatness.
Let’s work together to bring these lessons into practical and effective use. I look forward to hearing from you.
“Focus on Discovery, Not Decision-Making, Is Key To Success,” Xconomy—Business + Technology in the Exponential Economy, September 22, 2010
for preface, forward, intro, and blog.
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