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Management Bedsores and Darwin

Boy that was a double-take followed by a swallow when you read this newsletter title. What in the world could that title possibly suggest?

Well, first of all, let’s establish a working definition of what bed-sores are. When a health condition or medical condition results in periods of prolonged lack of movement in a bed, a chair, or wheelchair; the resulting bedsore can form because of lack of blood flow or compressed skin tissue against a hard surface. Untreated, bedsores can result in death.

So where’s the analogy to your business or your department? (I can hear the wheels turning out there.)

Let’s, for the sake of argument, say the “patient” is your business or your department. And, let’s say a healthy flow of ideas (or lack of) was the same as the flow of oxygen-carrying blood in your body. Let’s further say the compression points on the patient, where blood flow is restricted or where infection weakens the body is akin to clamping off (blunting) new ideas that might percolate from within an organization. Lack of oxygen in the form of idea exchange, idea sharing can cause stagnation in your business. Over time, the body (the business) becomes too weak to ward off its ultimate demise.

As I encounter people from different industries, people at different levels within an organization, I routinely observe this malady. It has symptoms that you might want to be alert to:

· All good ideas will come from the top-down,

· If things aren’t broke there’s no “fix” needed,

· “We’ve always done it this way…”

· We own the market so there’s no need to be thinking about change,

· We’ll take our lead from our competition …let them pay for the R&D, and/or

· Openness…we don’t have time for that touchy-feely stuff right now

Recognize any of these?

Darwin is widely recognized for his writing on the “survival of the fittest theory of evolution. Interestingly, it was actually a guy named Herbert Spencer who coined the phrase, and Darwin made it popular. In the world of business, Spencer drew parallels to animal species survival and business success or failure. The general public seemed to relate to Darwin more than Spencer. (Maybe businesses are less furry and fuzzy.) Darwin points out that it is not the strongest nor the most intelligent of the species that survives; but rather the one that is most adaptable to change.

Sore” the question for the day is: “Is your company, your department prone to bedsores or adapting to change?”


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