How to NAIL it!

You read a management book about the latest thing.
It makes out you can do all-sorts of wondrous things like this…


But when you try and do it in your workplace it doesn’t quite turn out like it did in the book…

What’s up with that?! How on earth! So you find out the industry leader, what is it that they do? Turns out it’s really whizzbang…

CaptureBut AGAIN when you try and do it, this is what you get…


You think, “Hang on, let’s go speak with someone who’s done this before, see what they’ve got.” You go visiting similar organisations, and you finally see something like this…


But when you get back to your organisation and try and repeat the same thing, yours looks more like this…

So you think “Sod it, I’M GETTING IN THE EXPERTS!“. You look on their website, like what you see, so get’em in! They say they’ll implement this…

CaptureHurray! Excitedly you do what they say…and get this…


Holy cow! That’s not what you wanted! So…

What is going wrong?

I’ll tell you! You’re seeing something that is the end result of something. If you want the good stuff at the end you’ll have to do the hard learning to get there. Copying is not the same as learning, they taught you that in school didn’t they?


“…hmm..don’t copy…gotcha. Now if only he moves his elbow so I can see the rest of the answers…”

Why are you looking around for a solution to your problems?


Apart from this shit-hole, obviously.

If something works, it works in the place that it works, if it didn’t nobody would write about it or go and visit it.

Going on a grand Industrial Tour will guarantee only seeing the successes and never the hard work that it took to create it.

You can only see the things that work, the end result, but you can’t see the thinking that put it there, that’s invisible.

Thankfully you CAN find the root cause of your problem though, the one that you’re running around trying to find an answer to so you can copy it.

CaptureI learnt that the root cause of all systemic problems is the thinking that caused them in the first place. Thinking based on command and control assumptions about work will produce problems a go-go. They create the system conditions that no tools or methods can solve without addressing the thinking that caused it.

When I first saw this diagram it made no sense really. It seemed probably right, but I had no clue really what it meant until I started to study how work actually worked. This showed me how the assumptions about managing work really do create system conditions that affect performance.

I only started to learn this through studying how work works. Like that diagram shows, the analysis starts with studying the performance of the system, finding out what is happening and asking why.

This leads to studying how things in the work impact on people doing the work, a piece of detective work aimed at understanding things in the workplace that help or hinder achievement of purpose. Finding and naming the system conditions that create that performance.
Why are those system conditions in place? Because we put them there. The problem is caused right at the top, where the thinking happens. Change the thinking, and everything topples like dominoes beneath it, the system conditions change and so then does the performance of the system. Going in at the level of studying the work, in your own workplace is where you start to intervene in your system, and you don’t stop until you understand the thinking that causes it all.

Nail that, and you’ve nailed everything.


Answer contained within

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3 Responses to How to NAIL it!

  1. Martin Burns says:

    Where the fallacy that you’ve identified lies is not in thinking that solutions defined elsewhere are necessarily wrong – particularly where there are multiple independent successes. – but in thinking that we can achieve that success quickly and perfectly, and that there will be no pain along the way.

    You see, you *can* act yourself into new ways of thinking, but it takes time for the paradigm to change.


    • ThinkPurpose says:

      When I started to do some work with a service in my organization (a local authority), I thought it a good idea to go visit some that had done it before, so I rang two who had done it using Vanguard method. Not to copy their end state, but to ask to visit them to find out about how they organised their transition. How they did some of the technical stuff. They both said no, they both said that the answer to improving Anonymous Councils housing benefit service lay inside Anonymous Councils housing benefit service. That if I visited then I couldn’t help but start to copy and forget about how it all depended in the unique perculiar situation of my own place. It all depends apparently.


  2. Pingback: How to NAIL it! | Thinking Out Loud |

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