Business Unusual: The Growth Mindset of Organizations
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Bye bye Dilbert, hello new ways of working!

Ways of working is the latest management fad. But is it too much to hope that it would put an end to those Dilbert moments that we all experience at work?

How many Dilbert moments did you have at work last week? Perhaps you have stopped to notice them.

We call them Dilbert moments because if we saw them in a cartoon they would make us laugh.  But instead of laughing they should make us both sad and angry – most important of all they should get us to take action – to fix what is not working.

Whether they are called dysfunctions, functional stupidity or Dilbert moments, we all experience them in the course of a typical week at work.  The only problem is that after the first couple of weeks in an organization we fail to even notice time. After slight initial resistance we roll-over unthinkingly adopting them and therefore adding to the madness.

How to pin point them?

Look for the bottlenecks, frustrations and inefficiencies – they give expression to ways of working that aren’t working.

Look for the linkages between people change department processes and functions.

Testy exchanges…

The weakest link in a chain is were the parts are connected

They hinder performance – speed, agility and innovation. They sap time energy and motivation.

‘We all laugh, a bit nervously, at jokes about the inherent insanity and wastefulness of life in a modern corporation. I’m here to tell you that it shouldn’t be funny. It should be shameful. We should mourn the lives and potential we’re wasting’.
Jeff Sutherland1

‘Enough with the Stupid Policies. Any policy that seems ridiculous likely is. Stupid forms, stupid meetings, stupid approvals, stupid standards are just that—stupid. If your office seems like a Dilbert cartoon, fix it.’
Jeff Sutherland1

Functional stupidity

For some it is everything that was ever put in a Dilbert cartoon – all conveniently labelled under one term – ways of working. It is those unthinking behaviors, lemming like routines that just don’t make sense.  For example:

  • Starting the week with 30 plus hours of conference calls already put in the diary
  • Predicating performance based on people working a 50 or 60 hour week.. It is where checking email in the evenings after dinner and on weekends.
  • Sitting at the desk for hours without a break or exercise
  • Turning off your camera on calls so that you can do other work
  • A culture where everything is urgent where priorities shift and change from week to week
  • With-holding information… it is where politics and personalities take over
  • it is where people doing bring out the best in each otehr
  • It is a lack of humanity at work
  • Leaders letting weeks and months go by without effective one-to-one’s with key team members
  • it is where people are constantly muti-tasking
  • where there are constant interruptions and people don’t have time think
  • It is about spending most of the week on internal collaboration that adds little or no value
  • It is about a culture of frenetic urgency – where everything is a priority
  • It is about priority lists that keep getting added to , without anything being taken off
  • It is about boundary disputes…
  • Environments where a few people do all the talking, while everybody else stays quiet
  • Environments where people fail to bring out the best in each other.
  • Where a few people do most of the talking and other stay silent
  • It is where everybody needs to be involved in everything
  • Where decisions are talked about for ages before anything happens
  • Where bureaucracy ad committees have taken over

When will Dilbert embrace New Ways of Working?

  1. Jeff Sutherland, Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time,  Cornerstone, 2015 [] []

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