Does it matter if one part of your organization is firing on all cylinders and the rest are misfiring?  What if all but one part is really humming and then one part is so clogged it’s not even operational?

According to Peter Drucker, “What matters in any system is the performance of the whole; this is the result of growth and dynamic balance, adjustment, and integration, rather than of mere technical efficiency (March 29, The Daily Drucker).”  On the question of how to strengthen the weakest part of your organization he said, “the best way to strengthen a system may be to weaken a part — to make it less precise or efficient.”  Can you imagine doing that?  I can kind of hear the discussion.  “You want to do what?!!”  What Drucker was talking about though, had more to do with a highly efficient accounting department that was determining for everyone else what was even possible.  I get that, having been in a place that worked that way.  You have too.  Think “bylaws”.  Think budgets based on historical precedent rather than strategic opportunity.

A great understanding of Drucker’s idea can be found in UNSTUCK by Keith Yamashita and Sandra Spataro.  The concept in the diagram is that for your organization to hum all the component parts must be in balance and orbit around your purpose.  One of the best metaphors is that when any one of the five parts (strategy, structure and process, culture, metrics and rewards, or people and interaction) get out of balance the result will be poor performance.  You could even see one of the five parts becoming what the organization orbits around (again, think “bylaws” and structure).

Taken that way, what do you think about Drucker’s idea that it may actually pay off to weaken the most efficient or highest performing unit in order to bring the organization into balance?

Find these ideas helpful?  Take a look at More on Operational Effectiveness for more on this important topic.

Obtaining Health and Performance