The Root Cause

Rethink Your Approach To Solving Stubborn Enterprise-Wide Problems


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

            The CEO of a commercial real estate brokerage firm asked me to help him replace a series of separate (Act) databases with a single one. Het never told me that what he had already purchased was in fact an industry-specific Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. Did he expect me to implement an ERP system just as a fancy database?

            In order to manage expectations, I wrote a project plan that would make use of all aspects of the ERP system―not just the data base part―as he suggested (see illustration). By the way, the plan enjoyed widespread buy-in from the brokers, and gained recognition for the company’s CEO as industry innovator 3 years in a row at the leading international industry convention.

            Furthermore, I proposed the temporary set up of a formal project organization, with him as the main principal and his COO as deputy principal, in order to guarantee progress should the CEO himself be unavailable. Mind you, the CEO had told me that he wanted to use technology as a competitive advantage, which made perfect sense to me because market intelligence is the core business of any real estate business.

            Within a year, I was fired just because now the CEO wanted to polish up the Profit and Loss statement because he was negotiating a merger. I laid out the consequences of his decision for the project; at least a one year delay etc. He waved it all off; he knew better. Instead of implementing my plan, he reduced the competitive advantage through technology to giving every broker a Blackberry mobile phone . . . . .

            Years later the COO told me the delay was in fact two years, and nothing indicated that what was implemented eventually was anything close to my plan that won them so many accolades.

            My take aways were:

  • Business growth—increasing the organization in form and size (bottom-line results) was more important for the CEO than developing the business’ capability and capacity, whereas development leads to growth but growth is often pursued at the expense of development.
  • The CEO did not understand how many aspects—departments—of the business are impacted by the introduction of an ERP system; that it is more than just an IT issue.
  • The COO didn’t recognize the importance of having a stand-alone project organization and failed to support me in getting the director for IT to participate.

            And so, I wrote a book about my experiences, and McGraw Hill published it.
Take a peek inside The Root Cause:

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