Why do dumb things often happen in smart companies?

In 1990 Peter Senge published his book The Fifth Discipline.  The book highlighted the benefits of being a learning organisation.  He contended, and I believe rightfully so, that a learning organisation is one where:

… people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together.

 He further wrote in the book that there is a need for five disciplines:

  1. Systems thinking
  2. Personal mastery
  3. Mental models
  4. Building shared vision
  5. Team learning

When it comes to planning, in my experience, the five disciplines are extremely important. 

Indeed mental models, our paradigms built out of our own environment, experiences and prejudices, can and often do come into play when working on strategy development and business model innovation.  the result often is a lack of innovation, risk taking and strategies which fail to meet the needs and wants of the market.

Systems are complex and need careful consideration when we are moving in new directions.  A simple change to one aspect will have multiple impacts internally and externally in any organisation.

The best people to help develop and innovate are those who will be implementing a new direction.  Working with all stakeholders in a collaborative and learning environment can minimise the risks associated with new decisions.

Having worked in teams where all five disciplines were in place, (even though we didn’t know that at the time), I know from experience that the amplified energy of such an environment can and does lead to truly great outcomes.

Using a structured approach, applying Senge’s thinkings, building shared vision and keeping an open mind can avoid predictable patterns and can elicit ideas that would otherwise never see the light of day.

Taking the alternative path is a potential recipe to join the embarrassing list of organisations who look smart but prove appearances wrong!  Dumb things – smart companies, we have all seen plenty of that ………

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