Organization Endeavor: “Journey of Learning”

Tom Peters summarizes a Wall Street Journal article saying “[t]here are, more or less, two flavors of companies”:

The first sort, focused on avoiding downsides, treats customers “only as data,” “manages risk through analysis,” “places big bets, slowly,” and frequently fails in new situations; alas, its rigidity and fearfulness increases through time in a vicious circle.

The second sort sees life as a “journey of learning.” It treats customers “as people”—and constantly seeks new input through direct contact with those customers. The Type Two group “places small bets, quickly” and manages risk through hustle and an abiding bias for test-try-adjust-action. It is relatively more successful in novel situations—which in turn creates a virtuous circle through which a “growth mindset” becomes the raison d’être of the firm itself.

My struggle: rationalizing why any health care organization, given the choice, would choose the former.  And my best reckoning indicates it most definitely is a choice.

It’s a brave new world requiring innovation, innovation, innovation (psst…innovation goes beyond new medical technology, new pharmaceuticals, and electronic medical record keeping).

Innovation is a continuous learning process that necessitates failure.  The key, however, is how the organization reacts to that failure.  Is it punished?  Or applauded and used as a tool for learning?  The answer to that question goes a long way to revealing the ideals of the organization.

Money quote from the article (article summarizes research by Sean Carr, Drs. Jeanne Liedtka, Robert Rosen, and Robert Wiltbank):

Indeed, interviews with the growth leaders revealed little frustration about the corporate hierarchy. Instead, they were experts at avoiding corporate interference as they executed their initiatives. They found supportive bosses who provided cover as they skirted restrictive budgeting processes, purchasing policies and hiring procedures.

The managers tended to ask for forgiveness afterward instead of permission before.

Aha! Rogue bandits get it done! Solution: people.  Put the people in place to make the organization willing to endeavor upon a “journey of learning.”

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