Saturday, May 30, 2009

How did we get here ?

Have you ever taken a walk while lost in thought? or perhaps driven a road while preoccupied with something ? And then - suddenly - you come out of your reverie, look around, and say to yourself: how did I get here ?

The same thing can happen in other scenarios.

Decision making in highly bureaucratic organizations often turns out this way. Someone starts off with a simple idea - probably a good one. A presentation is made, a committee is formed to look into it, opinions are sought, consultants are brought in and pretty soon the perfectly simple idea has been convoluted into a completely unrecognizable mess.

Why does this happen ? Hard to say, and I don't think I have an answer, except that it does happen.

Often it is simply well-intentioned advice from all sides - but you can have too much of a good thing, and strategy by committee never does work. Fear plays a role - each person asked to join the conversation likes to cover all bases to make sure he is not accountable if something goes wrong; territorial instinct comes into play; the need to be recognized has something to do with it.

In other words, it's good old-fashioned human nature.

One way or another, when you emerge on the other side, you get a decision that no one really understands, no one fully endorses, and no one is really sure why it was taken or even how it was arrived at.

Clearly it is a recipe for disaster and something to keep a lookout for.

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