-- Ax or Slack?
I was reading the May 27, 2001 business section of New Jerseys major paper, the Star Ledger. Theyve been carrying a series of articles on Lucent Technologies. This particular article focused on a possible takeover by Alcatel and the style of that French firms chairman and CEO. This headline grabbed me
Rebuilding with ax and cattle prod
I dont want to get off on a rant here, but
I think Orwells 1984 has arrived. The newspeak nature of so much of todays business writing in which cuts equal building and cattle prods pass for motivation reflects the nonsense going on in our current management environment.
The same day that I came across that disturbing headline, I was in the middle of reading a book that I will highly recommend to all. Slack Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency by Tom DeMarco (Broadway Books). Run, do not walk, to your local bookstore and get this book! You need its common sense diagnosis and prescription to counteract absurdities like that headline.
DeMarcos message is consistent with Deming, Goldratt, Drucker, and others who think seriously about the management of organizations. Its about driving out fear. Its about gaining effectiveness by compromising a bit on efficiency. Its about focusing on global performance and not on local optimization all themes common to my Unconstrained Thinking columns. Its about managers managing.
The books title refers to the idea that every organization needs protective capacity, occasional sprint capability, and available resources beyond immediate operational needs in order to identify and effect necessary change slack. Without slack in a system, were incapable of proactive growth and can only react. And even the ability to react is hampered by the burnout and survivor syndrome that too many of our major companies suffer under. When companies try to build with an ax, what goes is the slack and ability to act.
Think (and read) about it.
©2001, Frank Patrick
|If we don't change direction soon, we'll end up where we're going. - Professor Irwin Corey
This is one of a series of columns on improvement, TOC, constraint management, change management, systems thinking, uncommon sense, and whatever else comes into my mind. Suggestions for topics are welcome. - FP, 908-874-8664 or via the contact page of this site.
If you are interested in using these 1/2-page columns for your APICS, ASQ, or IIE newsletter, let me know through the same channels, and I'll send you the more easily usable MS Word versions.
-- Frank Patrick
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