Small changes and the status quo

By William Seidman Anyone who has paid any attention to the US Congress lately knows that decision- making is very fragmented.  Not surprisingly, I see much the same thing happen in corporations. I like to ask people to identify the most important strategic initiative in their organization. Often, they can’t identify one. Either they literally don’t know what their strategy is or they have multiple diverse initiatives. More of them seem to be going the route of fragmented initiatives. Is there any conceivable benefit to this thinking and lack of action? Some possibilities:  It’s a way for the executive teams to not make decisions about what is important. It is also a way to appear to be controlling costs. Executives feel they must be working toward improvements and see various small things that might help if they got better, but none of them is very significant. Because they’re small, they can usually be handled by giving the work to existing staff so they’re perceived as “free.” And because they’re small,  execs don’t need to be particularly forceful or visible at supporting them. If they conflict with each other, it’s not a problem since the impact of any of them is … small. If one of them fails, no one particularly notices and it hasn’t cost the executive anything. If all of them fail, again, no one particularly notices because they will be replaced by a new set of small initiatives. Having fragmented initiatives is a way for executives to create the appearance of performance improvement initiatives without having to commit to an improvement, and it’s not a great way to run an organization.]]>

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