Monday, August 11, 2014

Reprise: The Fog of Big Company Disease

By Pascal Dennis

Last time I talked about Big Company Disease and suggested that a key symptom is The Fog…

(It’s fun capitalizing it, and reminds me of a goofy same-name horror movie.


A pal & I have had great fun making up horror movie titles related to, ahem, other atmospheric emissions.)

Joking aside, the Fog is deeply frustrating and debilitating. Here are some symptoms:

Your purpose is unclear. You're not sure who your customers or suppliers are.

You don't know if you're ahead or behind.

You can't see your biggest problems.

So you spend a great deal of time in the "spin cycle".

Life becomes unpleasant so you naturally look for someone to blame.

You buffer the chaos with capacity -- your time.

Eventually, you burn out.

The leader’s most important job, in my view, is making the current condition visible – by gradually dispersing the Fog.

Visual management, standardized work and other core Lean tools are terrific enablers.

Lean principles & thinking are even better.

Best regards,

Pascal


2 comments:

  1. Is there any value in understanding the root cause for the Fog? What usually "precipitates" managements' decision to make a move, whether towards Lean or another change? Is fear the best initial motivator?

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  2. Good question. Yes, we need to understand the Fog's root causes, which vary widely. In some cases, it's simply size & scale of organization. In other causes, there's so much fear that people create Fog to protect themselves. In yet other cases, cause is core mental models. E.g. engineering-driven firms often believe that 'complexity is profound'. Best, pascal

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