Manager #5 tells us why he thinks it is too late for his company.
“I think our company has about twelve to eighteen months, and then it will be too late. To be truly competitive, we have to alter the underlying system. That means, however, getting past the ever-present and undeniably important daily tasks. It means doing more. I think we keep busy because it is a kind of opium. We don’t know how to confront the deep change process, so we keep ourselves busy with the normal stuff and try not to notice what’s really happening. I’m not optimistic. There is no vision from the top, and the changes continue to be incremental. As I see it, we are very clearly choosing slow death.”
A change in the underlying system of an organization is usually a very big change. It is not only technological but also political, and therefore full of potential conflict. In this case, “doing more” means dealing with the underlying system, but people are unwilling to do so. Instead, they stay busy. Note that staying busy is “a kind of opium.” The logic of task pursuit acts like a drug that dulls people and helps them avoid the work of deep change needed to turn the company around.
Are any of these patterns familiar?
Have you experienced them in your own organization?
What could you or other leaders have done to halt the process of slow death and turn it around?
(The Deep Change Field Guide, p. 31-34)