Making Piecemeal Changes Can Be Dangerous

Piecemeal Changes by Geary Rummler Alan Brache

By Geary Rummler and Alan Brache

Excerpt from Article

All too often, companies respond to external pressure with spasmodic campaigns such as:

  • Developing and communicating a business vision and/ or strategy
  • Embarking on culture-transformation programs
  • Training executives in “leadership” (as opposed to “management,” which is now widely seen as the domain of uninspiring, dime-a-dozen technocrats)
  • Conducting organization-wide quality awareness and customer awareness campaigns
  • Training employees in statistical process control tools
  • “Reengineering,” which usually means downsizing and other forms of cost reduction

If management’s objective is to symbolize to employees, customers, shareholders, and the business press that it recognizes the challenge and is doing something about it, then any of these actions will do the job. If, however, managers wish to address needs comprehensively and on a sustained basis, they cannot pursue the quick fixes and superficial responses that have become the trademark of improvement efforts.

Noble intentions drive each of the actions listed here, and each of them can address a piece of the problem or opportunity. Therein, however, lies our concern. Managing to meet the challenge of change—demanding, unforgiving customers, and ubiquitous, unmerciful competitors—is a complex and complicated task. Piecemeal approaches, that are assumed to be the answer are as dangerous as no response at all. These efforts can absorb vast resources as they lull an organization into thinking ...