A well-managed organization is boring

Sometimes, excitement means something exciting is going on. But other times, excitement only masks confusion, disorder, and decline.

If your organization places value on a strong work ethic and your people put in long hours, that’s exciting. If there are couches and soda and stock options, but all that effort is wasted only on fixing mistakes you could have avoided with more foresight or better processes or a little planning, then—even though it’s exciting—your organization is poorly managed.

Peter Drucker writes:

Years ago when I first started out as a consultant, I had to learn how to tell a well-managed industrial plant from a poorly managed one—without any pretense to production knowledge. A well-managed plant, I soon learned, is a quiet place. A factory that is “dramatic,” a factory in which the “epic of industry” is unfolded before the visitor’s eyes, is poorly managed. A well-managed factory is boring. Nothing exciting happens in it because the crises have been anticipated and have been converted into routine.

Similarly a well-managed organization is a “dull” organization. The “dramatic” things in such an organization are basic decisions that make the future, rather than heroics in mopping up yesterday’s mistakes.

It may be exciting, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t declining.

Aim for boring.


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