14 December, 2010

How To Really Change Organizations And Companies

When the companies you work for, the organizations you belong to and support with your financial gifts don't accomplish the things they say they want to accomplish, 2 things are true: (1) The system is working as designed and (2) Somebody wants it that way. Systems do what they are designed to do. They can do nothing else. If you wish to get a different outcome or a different product you have to actually make changes to the system. If you don't change the system, you can't change the product of that system.

All outcomes are the result of a system that produced them. A system that is designed to make widgets will not make cars or parkas unless the system is reconfigured to produce cars or parkas. A system that is designed to shut down puppy mills will not cause more puppy mills to open.

Some of my church-going readers belong to churches that say they exist to "make disciples" or "win souls to Christ" and yet these churches aren't making disciples or winning souls. To my church-going friends I say don't write a check to drop in the offering plate, write a letter explaining that you will not be providing further financial support until the system  that doesn't make disciples or win souls is redesigned so that it does make disciples or win souls.

If you have been donating money to an organization that is supposed to help so-called "older workers" find employment, I strongly advise you to ask that org for proof of the efficacy of their work on behalf of "older workers". If they cannot prove that your financial support hasn't been squandered, instead of sending more money send a letter explaining why you won't be sending more money. That organization already knows it's squandering your donations and it will continue to do so until donors withhold funds and demand change to the system.

Until recently I was involved with a "task force" made up of representatives of various orgs that have received taxpayer and private funds to encourage companies to hire so-called older workers yet none of these task force members could name a local company they had teamed with to employ these older workers. These "older worker" programs are jobs programs, alright, but not for older workers. These programs have systems that are designed to produce jobs for overpaid bureaucrats and they will never produce jobs for so-called older workers until the systems are redesigned to produce employment opportunities for older workers, not bureaucrats.

Most religious, membership and non-profit orgs really exist to provide jobs for the people at the top. If you are sending money to such an organization, withhold your funding immediately and tell them why.

More importantly, tell your friends not to send money to organizations that don't do what they claim they want to do. Systems produce what they are designed to produce and they will never produce anything but what they are designed to produce unless the system itself is changed.

Let's say you are a city government and you have outsourced job creation to some membership organization that can't prove it has produced even one job with the money you've paid them. Cut them  off. Tell them they can't have any more taxpayer dollars until they have a system that produces jobs instead of excuses.

Do you send money to an organization that doesn't accomplish what it says it wants to accomplish? If so, don't send a check, send a letter telling them you will resume your financial support when they make the systemic changes needed to produce a different outcome.

Do you own or are you managing a company that isn't getting the desired results? You will not get improvements in quality, sales, profits or innovation until you are willing to make changes to the systems that are failing to produce the desired results.

A system that produces jobs for overpaid executives will not suddenly or accidentally start producing jobs for laid-off plant workers. A system that produces widgets might produce widgets of varying quality and might occasionally produce defective widgets that cannot be sold, but a system that produces widgets will never produce iPads or blue jeans unless the system is reconfigured to produce iPads or blue jeans.

If you are a donor, don't just demand change, demand change to the system.

If you are a company owner, it does no good to fire your management and hire new managers unless your new managers are systems thinkers who will make changes to the system that is producing the disappointing results.

For more on how systems produce what they are designed to produce, see my
21 JULY, 2010 post in the blog archives.

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