I recently had dinner with the HR Director of a new client, who asked me what had been the most profound discovery on my 16-year and 20,000-plus-hours Blueprints’ journey with 130 organisations in 36 countries. My response was instantaneous, spontaneous and perhaps undiplomatic, “That all organisations are dysfunctional, to a degree”. I was taken aback that she was so taken aback by my reply. On reflection, I suppose that her reaction was understandable, as implicit in those words was an inference that her organisation, my new customer, was also dysfunctional, to a degree. So, I qualified myself swiftly with this elaboration:
All organisations are comprised of people, and all humans have shadows – light ones and dark ones. No religion or philosophy worth its salt denies this reality. The most universal catch-all reference to this state is the ‘Human Condition’ and its concomitant suffering. It follows that all people are dysfunctional, to a degree. All families are dysfunctional, to a degree. All countries are dysfunctional, to a degree. The world is dysfunctional, to a degree. How then can one expect organisations to be paragons of utopian harmony? It’s simply the inevitable outcome of the human condition at play in all group dynamics.
She relaxed somewhat, and the tension passed. But the exchange caused me to wonder how pervasive the levels of organisational-dysfunction-denial must be, and the extent to which the assumption that all should be well exists.
So, what to do? Well, it’s a question of where you are on the spectrum and how to systematically shift from low-functioning to high-functioning capabilities, and in so doing to radically differentiate yourself from your competitors, who are more likely than not to remain less consciously and systemically evolved than you – post transformation.