Four words of wisdom spoken by a manager in a department notorious for its long lists of actions (note I didn’t write action plan) and promises but a lousy transformation rate.
Looking closer on their usual way to solve problems or work on improvement revealed a common flaw in many organizations: the open loop.
The open loop is the belief that things will get done (simply) because someone put them on a list and presented them, without a control and feedback loop to ensure things really get done.
Usually the presenter refrains from any formal commitment and, as so often, what is called an action plan is a mere brainstorming or a wish list at best.
Complacent managers don’t demand due dates nor ownership, accountability neither clear assignment of tasks to someone.
As no one will track and check the real outcome of envisioned actions, they’ll get done only if someone has a personal benefit in it and/or by goodwill.
Complaints for the status quo remain rare as complainers fear being put in charge of carrying out or solve what they complain about.
Thus, no complaints, no problem.
Apparently, as nobody complains, issues seem to be solved, confirming that no closer tracking is needed.
The issues remaining hopelessly unsolved, people keep suffering in silence or find ways around, by-passes, arrangements, usually off standards and uncontrolled, sometimes hazardous.
These ‘solutions’ bring new problems, themselves being handled in the same way and gnawing on performance.
When the wind suddenly change, with a new demanding boss in charge usually, the amount of corrective actions could sweep tsunami-like onto the staff.
There is where the four words of wisdom come in: start less, finish more.
Way too late though.