Monday, January 07, 2008

A problem in policy or implementation?

There's a discussion about different approaches to solving organizational problems on a mailing list to which I belong. I posted the following follow-up:

Problems in policy implementation may be due to problems in policy design.

(In this context, a policy is a set of rules or guidelines by which we make decisions. )

While it's taken totally out of context here, I think it's very consistent with Deming's ideas, with the lesson that problems in the user manual for a product may really be a problem with the design of a product, with what I've learned as a manager leading change, and with what I've observed as a consultant: if you get the "system" designed well, the implementation may well become significantly more straightforward.

So if you're not getting the results you want out of your organization and if you're tempted to think the problem lies in the people implementing your policies, think again, just to be sure. It's possible that the problem lies in your policies.

That's actually good news, for it means the problem lies in an area you really do control, one where you really can make meaningful, effective changes.

What do you think?

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