I can’t tell you how often I hear the above claim. For the last twenty years this notion, that systems and processes are responsible for the success or failure of business, has been one of the foundations of organizational development.
If you want to successfully manage a team, make sure your structure, procedures and systems are aligned with your goal, and success will be yours. Going through a strategic change? You should analyze and structure all processes and systems to support the change, and if you do, any initiative will meet your stakeholders’ expectations.
This, of course, makes perfect sense. Organizational Development experts spent the last thirty years or so studying which structures and systems are needed in order to achieve goals successfully. In addition, systems such as data management systems and communication systems, are very easily associated with specific desired results. If only people used the systems, processes, and models correctly, every business would have achieved their goals.
It makes sense, and yet we are living at a time that proves that it’s far from enough. The models, systems and processes have been nearly perfected at this point. The tools developed by Six Sigma, for example, are truly excellent. TQM, which in time grew into Six Sigma, was a critical approach when it was originated because it studied the components of achieving desired results. Six Sigma should be used to understand what needs to be, but it is lacking in one significant way: how to get there.
Six Sigma is a great example because it shows that even when organizations are given the blueprint for success, unless they know how to build from that blueprint, success will not follow. In 2008 a report indicated that 60% of Six Sigma’s initiatives failed. It became clear that one of the key components needed in addition to the right blueprint was a guide to implementation.
It turns out that if there is a problem with an internal process it is TYPICALLY the outcome of the way human capital learns, plans, interacts and executes.
Here are a few examples of how human capital gets in the way of successful strategic initiatives, even with an excellent blueprint in hand:
- Leadership is blind to the solution, so that even when the right solution is presented, it is not followed
- Leadership disagrees on critical aspects of the problem or the solution
- Internal politics are the foundation for sabotage or conflicting efforts
- Leadership is coherent and clear about the solution but “line managers” and teams resist applying the changes that are required in order to meet the guidelines of the blueprint
The list goes on. It is varied and specific, with unique shades and colors that match each team and organization differently. It’s NOT about fault, in fact most teams are very eager to be part of their organization’s success. But most frequently, results are not met because the human capital is not responding in the way that will lead to the execution of desired outcomes.