Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Organizational Dysfunction

For decades now, people are taught a definition of "success":
a successful team delivers the full scope on time and under budget.

It has been the mantra of project managers and has been taught in books, in magazines, in college classes, and by word-of-mouth for GENERATIONS of managers and workers.

Starting in the 80s and 90s we started hearing echoes from the 60s that a successful project is built as a series of small successes with incremental and iterative work.

Next, we hear that a project is successful if it meets the client's needs on the day of delivery, rather than the day the contract is signed.

And then we hear that successful products are different from projects, and project-thinking may not even be valid. The goal is to build a user base, not a defined content. Now it is about the income (economic engine) that the product represents.  No more thinking about the day of delivery and the payment for delivering the thing; it's a longer view.

And then we have Lean Startup telling us that we may have to pivot in order to develop customers; change the product, or find it a new audience. To not be married to content.

This awareness and understanding are not new (seriously, much goes back to 60s and 70s) but is "not evenly distributed."

Some people are pursuing eighties.success and seventies.success still, and haven't gotten the memo.

We tend to refer to un-updated-ness as "organizational dysfunction" It used to be "organizational function" -- even "successful project management." There is also some amount of process and HR cruft that builds up in the organization to hold the older view in place and keep the people successful (to the old definition). This we also call "organizational dysfunction."

In the interest of "try not to be a threat to the people you're trying to help" I suggest that we change terms.

The people are not (usually) evil or broken or dysfunctional people.

The org has a great potential.

There are just new ways that may help a company be more successful. There is a new view of working, and what it means to be successful. We think these are better views. They seem to be.

I don't know how it helps to insult the people we serve or to war against "wrong-headedness" instead of instilling a new way of seeing work, success, our roles in this new way of working.

This is a long-winded way of asking that we who consult and train and transition maybe try "cranking up the good" instead of "decrying the dysfunction" for a while and see how it turns out for us.

"Organizational Dysfunction" maybe is just "not-yet-transitioned-ness" and maybe that's why we are here.