Lean Behaviors

I’ve briefly mentioned Emiliani’s “Lean Behaviors” before, but lately I am finding myself coming back to it on a number of occasions. This time it was Al Iverson’s amazement in “What You Suggest Will Kill Email for Everyone“:

It’s amazing to me that some people are so blind to that outcome. A savvy marketer ought to already know that it’s not all that smart to burn up the medium in a way that arrests your future ability to make money from it?

Oh but people are not blind. They just have a different agenda. They aim for short-term profits (and bonuses) and results that last as long as they are part of an organization. Whether their actions set in motion the demise of the organization (which might occur after they have left) is not something to bother them. After all, the organization failed after they left, so it is not their fault, right? Wrong! I quote from “Lean Behaviors”:

Behaving poorly in the workplace makes everyone, including management, ignorant of how well people can actually behave, and results in the evolution of new types of undesirable behavior patterns. Poor behaviors allow people to avoid co-operation, gain personal advantage, and protect personal or departmental interests. These self-serving habits become well-developed over time, resulting in highly skilled but unproductive gamesmanship that no customer would want to pay for. All too often the most highly skilled gameplayers become unwholesome ego-driven role models for future generations. Survival of the fittest, in this context, means the lowest forms of behavior win – but only on a personal level, which is good enough for many people. However, the corporate culture, which mirrors the aggregate of individual behavior of managers, will likely fail to serve the larger community. The result is a deterioration of trust between workers, management, suppliers (Sheridan, 1997), and investors, which can further erode a company’s competitive position. Competitors may also suffer from this, as they now often work together in joint ventures or other co-operative business arrangements. A lack of trust and differences in corporate culture have been cited as primary reasons why collaborative business arrangements often fail or at least fall well below expectations (Kanter, 1994).

(I could quote the whole of the paper, but it is freely available, so go download it)

So it is not blindness. It is about the “take the money and run” attitude. Use whatever half-baked idea seems to bring money on the table regardless of whether it will slain the goose in the long run. With such people switching jobs every three to five years, by that time they will already be aiming at another goose.

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