What underlies the malaise of so many large and successful organizations worldwide is that their theory of the business no longer works. (Peter Drucker, HBR, 1994)
The word most love to hate – theory. But a theory is nothing more than an explanation about:
- What matters
- How to get what matters
- Why the how leads to the what
- When the assumptions about what, how or why no longer hold true
Whether we realize it or not, it is our theories that drive behavior at work. When you clearly understand your theory you can you begin to test it – to try to figure out when it will NOT work. All good theories have clearly defined boundaries, and your understanding of these boundaries is critical.
Some of you reading this article work in organizations that continually change assumptions before the theory of your business is obsolete. Others work in organizations that have successfully reacted to a radical change and are operating with new and effective theories.
I suspect most of us work in organizations where the rules of the game have radically changed but our theories have not. One indication would be your organization is trying to do more with less. People around you are not thriving; they are focused on simply surviving.
I’ve never seen a time in my life where so many of us have an opportunity to learn so much. Don’t miss this. Keep your eyes and ears open, participate as much as possible, and think hard about what is going on around you. Don’t allow yourself to be spoon-fed easy answers by people peddling expediency.
What are you and your leadership doing about why you missed the change in assumptions and why you continue to allow yourselves to be bound by an obsolete theory? If you can’t identify and address the “why”, it will happen again.