What do organizations forget?

Last week, I discovered a small sum of money that I am entitled to withdraw, given my advanced age, 68.

So I went on line, spent hours and hours filling out forms and uploading documents to forward to the financial institution so they can forward me the funds. Among the documents included was my identity card that states my age.

I then called the call centre to check that all the documents are correct. After 2 hours and twenty minutes, they answered the phone; after a document check I was told that I need to sign a form that I am over 60 years old. However, the form is not available on line. The form will be sent to me by (a very unreliable 3rd world) Israel Post. “But you have my ID card”, I protested. The clerk ignored my comment, then told me that “she understands my anger” and thanked me for calling the call centre.

All of which led to the first thing that organizations forget- 1) common sense.

There are many more things that organization forget.  Here are a few more-

2) How important mediocre people are to success, ie, plain ordinary people who want to do their job as directed, and go home.

3) Luck plays an important role in the success and failure of the company.

4) Organizational culture cannot be changed. Things can be done differently and this may Impact culture over a protracted period of time,  but it is almost impossible to “change culture” by acting on cultural artifacts.

5) The possibility of human stupidity is endless. When you think that you have covered everything, watch out. A common example of this is end endless attempts to “define away” complexity of roles and responsibilities.

6) Diversity is not mainly about skin colour, race, sexual preference, or bathrooms for transgenders. Diversity is mainly is cognitive styles, cultural preferences, and emotional proclivities.

7) The only secret that exists is when two people know something, and one of them is dead. Everyone eventually knows everything.  This includes who earns what and who is fucking whom.

8) Everyone, absolutely everyone, thinks about change ONLY in terms of “what’s in it for me”?

9) There are no mergers, only acquisitions. The acquired companies culture is ultimately decimated.

10) Often, doing a job well requires less people, not more.


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15 thoughts on “What do organizations forget?

  1. Wow, Allon!

    What hit parade of wisdom gems!

    I wish I could emblazon your thought about diversity across the sky. Diversity has become code for identity politics. And, as a result, real diversity progress is stymied because the root problem lies in the kinds of diversity you list

    Yoru thought about WIIFM is “right on”. While laudable, words like “altruistic” and “egalitarianism” mask this truth. “Selfless” really does not exist. “Selfless” means a larger part of my WIFFM rests on your or Other’s happiness Even so, I get some gratuity from your happiness; i.e. my WIFFM is your happiness.

    Love the “there are no mergers; only acquisitions” What a great grasp of Truth!


    Drive On!

  2. AMEN brother. I would add that the reason most M & A’s fail is the planners put all their attention on the ‘A’ and nothing on the ‘M’. . .

  3. The critical one is: « Culture cannot be changed. » This pre-supposition is key to O.D. and contrary to its foundation, i.e. the empirical evidence of the presence of distinct cultures in organizations along with the frequent cries of the CEO to consultants: « I am aiming for a change in culture. »
    Culture emerges synchronically with the gradual collective interpretation and usage of an organisation’s creations that strucure behavior ( policies, decision making hierarchy, technology, physical environment, values, whrere the vision comes from, dominant ethnicity, etc) I begun my career as a consultant from a place of arrogance thinking that culture could be changed. Boy, was I ever humbled by my ignorance.

  4. Allon, my father z”l, who was 1 of the first systems analysts, loved to say that no matter how carefully you try to idiot-proof it, there will always be a bigger & better idiot.

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