I used to work for Amnesia Incorporated.
I can’t remember exactly what business it was in, but no doubt it was dynamic, vital and important as thousands of people depended on us. Every year would start fresh, like years often do, but our years were fresher than most as they were the first year of our lives. Literally. We had no memory of any previous years as we had no memory. We were Amnesia Inc.! And proud of it.
We would ask the same questions, but couldn’t remember that they were the same. They seemed fresh and invigorating.
We kept the same problems, as they were called different things at different times.
We had one core value that appeared to change every year, but always remained the same. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Jealous? How can your organisation become Amnesia Inc?
- Change leaders often. They will arrive with new ideas, which will turn out to be the same as the old ideas but nobody will say anything for fear of negativity. This way the whole organisation will forget and repeat the same things, but this time, this time, it will work because this time there are the right leaders, i.e. different leaders. The same as happened last time. But that was under Joe and the old lot of Directors, that lot were useless. This one though, so dynamic and full of new ideas.
- But don’t change the thinking. This way you get to ask the same questions, but you get annoyed at the inevitable same answers, so ask the same questions again but harder. This further locks in the thinking.
- Change purpose often. As your leaders change often, then so will your purpose. It is even easier if you don’t change purpose, but change the plans that purpose is written on. Call them priorities or aims, anything with the word “strategic” in front of it. Call them four or five year plans so there is an illusion of constancy of purpose, but make sure there is a different one every year. Now nobody can keep track of anything, it all looks different but somehow feels exactly the same.
- Keep doing. Emphasise, reward and fetishise activity and doing. You will think you are making progress, as you are doing simply loads. This will keep everybody distracted from the real problems.
- Keep decision-making away from the work. Leaders will never see the actual results of their decisions and so will not be grounded in reality. Instead they will only see that it somehow didn’t work this time, but they won’t learn why. They are now locked into single loop learning, always trying to do the same thing in different ways, which means nothing improves whilst everything is always changing. See point 2 above.
- Nurture a cult of positivity. This will keep people positive, ensure a lot gets done and nothing is achieved. Handily this also flushes out anyone who is burdened with memory, as pointing out that something that has failed three times already is not badged as organisational memory, but simple personal negativity. As only people who “do” rise to the top, it is only “doing” that fills the top layer. See point 4.
- Rinse and repeat.