Aspirin for Asthma
The path to success is paved with systems. The alternative is band-aids and aspirins.
Aspirin is great for minor headaches but doesn’t help asthma. In a few people, aspirin makes asthma worse.
Aspirin won’t help asthma no matter how sincere you feel.
7 “painful” insights:
- A little pain is part of organizational life.
- The advantage of pain is motivation to seek solutions.
- Poorly solved problems return and get worse.
- Yesterday’s good solution may make matters worse today.
- An aspirin is fine for minor irritations but recurring pain requires systematic solutions.
Warning: You may have a problem even if it doesn’t hurt right now.
Approaching chronic pain:
- Create blame-free environments. Take responsibility. Don’t point fingers.
- Think long-term rather than quick fix.
- Look for root causes, not symptoms.
Tip: Look for simple causes and solutions first. Sitting on a thick wallet in your back pocket can twist your back and cause back pain, for example.
Systems: You love systems because they…
- Eliminate drama.
- Prevent distractions.
- Instill confidence.
- Expedite efficiencies.
- Establish measures.
- Leadership development systems. A bi-monthly one-on-one, for example.
- Communication systems.
- Accountability systems.
- Transparency systems.
- Problem solving systems.
Systems could be checklists or standard operating procedures (SOP’s).
- Repeated behaviors.
- Pre-determined patterns for specific situations. You know what to do before it happens.
- Confidence builders.
- Clarity creators.
The danger of systems is complexity.
Systems can be as simple as asking the same questions at the beginning of team meetings.
- What are this week’s greatest opportunities?
- How will we capitalize on our greatest opportunities?
- Who’s the champion of this opportunity?
- How do we know we’re winning?
What organizational pain-points might be opportunities for system-solutions?
I think it’s important to differentiate between processes and systems.
A system is the interaction between and among two or more processes. In the local, take-out pizza shop the four key processes include:
1. Taking orders
2. Cooking pizzas
3. Packaging orders
4. Delivering orders
The interaction of these processes is a system. All four processes must work together for the customer to get the desired pizza on time as ordered.
All processes must be aligned and integrated to make the overall system work effectively. In some situations, managers administer aspirin and improve one process, which may or may not improve the overall system.
Bottom line–managers and leaders need to be able to see and understand what’s happening at both the process and system level.
Ditto … pain management is not health care, as Dan has stated.
Nicely stated, Paul. Thank you.
General systems theory can be summed up similarly:
If all you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.
Systems can’t innovate; that what human (toolbuilding) genius is for.
They do evolve, though : increasing in complexity and are entropic, heading for dissolution if their is no intervention.
The “potentials” are the tools, not the solutions.
Integrate your potential energies (align your tools to your vision and their best use/purpose), and you lead the way to organic innovations (effecrive resolution of causes and effects).
You know a genuine artisan by the respect and care by which s/he tends to its tools. Are we artisans or machines?
Thanks Rurbane. Systems can’t innovate but a system for innovating makes innovation more probably. Without a system it’s chance or chaos.
I agree whole-heartedly, Dan …
Systems are designed to insulate us from the chaos/entropy of life … they provide us with a structure by which to proceed, to build upon “the lessons learned” …
they are the temporary aspirin by which to relieve the (acute) pain of (chronic, asthmatic-inducing) reality …
just long enough to realize that the system itself is the overloaded wallet torturing our spine, and to consolidate the previously won bills into larger denominations and all the various charge cards into Amex,
or better yet, use the bills to pay off the charge cards and cut them up. 🙂
Systems are the solution to complex problems that are perhaps deliberately created by fearful people.
The list provided is powerful. In absence of the system, incompetent people volunteers to interpret the processes in their favors and sincere employees become the target. They become the soft targets. So, system creation is utmost important.
However, it is not enough. There are people who still want to bypass the system and start creating a parallel system that suits their needs. Therefore, leaders should fix accountability to the executor of the system. Many times, it is the person who pretends to create the system, flouts the system.
So, pain-points as an opportunity could be people who avoid taking responsibility. They should be given responsibility to ensure smooth functioning of the system.
Thanks Dr.Gupta. Thanks for bringing ‘fear’ to the conversation. I hadn’t thought of that.
A system created by fear might be a good thing. But too much protection leads to stagnation. Perhaps a system created out of aspiration is better than a system created out of fear or desperation.
Systems break down when the input or output of a process is inaccurate, incomplete, not timely or deficient in some other way.
In a high performing system all processes are fully aligned and integrated.
Thanks Paul. I suppose that’s why effective systems are challenging to create and even more challenging to run.
Dan, I agree. Getting a major system perfectly aligned and integrated is a thing of beauty but seldom happens.
Even on a smaller scale—-like a sports team when they are “in the zone.” Everything is perfect for a little while but then, little disconnects start to happen. And then, the team is performing at 85% alignment versus 100% alignment.