The Root Cause

Rethink Your Approach To Solving Stubborn Enterprise-Wide Problems

Writing THE ROOT CAUSE #10

            People ask me WHY I wrote THE ROOT CAUSE: Rethink Your Approach To Solving Stubborn Enterprise-Wide Problems ? So, let me tell you.

            How many times have you heard the excuse that “The SYSTEM” made a mistake?
Any chance you used that cliché once or twice yourself?

            What about curtailing or even shutting down a major system overhaul with the excuse that “The SYSTEM” cannot handle it? Sounds familiar?

            Have you ever asked yourself what IS this system? You think “IT” is emancipated and has personhood, or that “IT” is under control of something or someone?

            YES, business is a system; a manmade instrumentality controlled by people organized within a HIERARCHY that legalizes one’s level of AUTHORITY and thus its corresponding level of RESPONSIBILITY.

            Therefore, every promotion―taking another step up the hierarchical ladder―means taking on MORE responsibility for the system’s success and failure BECAUSE you’re given MORE authority to make changes to the system.

            And here’s the rub: Once you climbed all the way to the top, to the Position of Chief Executive Officer, you are to assume ULTIMATE responsibility BECAUSE you’re bestowed with the right to exercise (practically) ULTIMATE authority.
Obviously, you can delegate authority to others down the hierarchy or to outsiders BUT you CANNOT delegate responsibility. You’re it!!!

            The Achilles Heel of a Chief Executive is one’s ability to solve stubborn enterprise-wide problems adequately and in a timely fashion. Problems that manifest themselves enterprise-wide become stubborn because no single department or line-manager can solve them without collaboration of other departments and line-managers on the same hierarchical level. They are bound to run into conflicts of interest and ultimately into polarization between leaders, which causes a stalemate. Does anyone need me to give examples or can you give me some yourselves?

            Conflicts of interest on the same hierarchical level can only be resolved by someone on the next higher level, which is, ultimately, the Chief Executive. Pundits like to opine on RESISTANCE TO CHANGE but they tend to train their sights on the wrong targets―people who lack the requisite authority to change the system and who are therefore NOT responsible and should NOT be asked to account, UNLESS unintended and unwanted outcomes are DIRECTLY attributable to what they did or didn’t do.

            Then, where should pundit train their sights instead? Here’s a hint:

“Biological organizations put innovation and creativity at the ‘top’ of the hierarchy (in the brain), just the opposite from their position in most human-made organizations (such as corporations or nations), where structure becomes increasingly rigid toward the top.”

―Erich Jantsch; organizational theorist


            Based on personal experience as a change manager, willingness to initiate and support enterprise-wide change meets, indeed, the most resistance at the top of the hierarchy. As a result, business systems are ill equipped to accommodate the unintended and unwanted effects from new and unforeseen circumstances as they unfold.

            In order to increase business systems’ abilities to change with flexibility and speed—to make them agile―I wrote this book for executives and their urgent need to Rethink Their Approach to Solving Stubborn Enterprise-Wide Problems, and McGraw Hill published it.

            Here are my other reasons for writing THE ROOT CAUSE:

Take a peek inside THE ROOT CAUSE 

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