Willingness to Change LO5932

Rachel Silber (rachel@ontos.com)
Fri, 1 Mar 1996 11:08:57 -0500 (EST)

Replying to LO5897 --

"Virginia I. Shafer said: "
> David Birren writes:
> >I'm wrestling with the same issues in my agency's reorganization. In
> >thinking about redesigning our work planning system, I asked the question
> >"Why?" five times and came to the astounding realization that we, in this
> >public sector organization, are unwilling to change the ways we do things
> >because the current management system appeals to the values of our
> >customers (in our case, taxpayers and legislators). They want everything,
> >so we try to give it to them.

This reminds me very much of the chapter in Drucker's relatively recent
book called Innovation and Entrepreneurship on the public sector. He
describes this bind in detail, and states that it is not so much that any
one customer actually wants all of the activities, but that public sector
orgs tend to have many constituencies, all of which have (or may be
perceived to have) veto power on the org's activities if they are not

> >When we make judgments about priorities and
> >try to drop the low-priority work, we're told we have to keep doing it.
> >So why bother trying to change?
> If the customer wants "everything," then they must be willing to pay for
> it. Your responsibility becomes to cost out "doing everything" in terms of
> people, process, and resources--then charge for it. If they can't/won't
> put their money where their demands are, then get the customer involved in
> setting the priorities. Make the taxpayers and legislators make the
> judgements on what is low-priority work. But it'll mean doing your
> homework so their short-term thinking (I dare to assume) doesn't disrupt
> the ecological flow.
> I think management, nay, leadership, has a responsibility to inform the
> customers of the cost of continuing to do "everything." What, if
> anything, is falling through the cracks? If everything is getting done,
> then you had the capacity for it all along. But I trust things like
> training, planning, visioning, creative thinking, these soft things are
> what's not getting done. You're collectively perpetuating the bureacratic
> archetype. Look for the leverage point--it's often where you find the
> real customer expressing their real values.

This is true in the non-public sector also. I am sure that there are
plenty of businesses that have gotten in trouble overextending their
commitments to customers. Out of a real desire for customer service,
perhaps, you can find yourself unable to please anyone.


Rachel Silber rachel@ontos.com

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>