Is your organisation harming itself?

Marcus Guest
2 min readJul 29, 2021

“Before you try to run a marathon, get fit first” — Simon Wardley

Is your organisation harming itself?

  1. Do you have a strategy that tells people what to do, but nevertheless mistrust and miscommunication between silos slows everything down?
  2. Do some teams launch projects that go nowhere, then prevent others from trying again later by saying “we already tried that and it doesn’t work”?
  3. Are you going through (another) major restructuring effort?

These are common symptoms of organisational self-harm. And if your organisation is doing this then there’s little point trying to create a new strategy or re-structure the organisation as your efforts will be wasted.

Re-arranging deck-chairs wouldn’t have helped the Titanic miss the iceberg.

To see if your organisation is harming itseld run this simple diagnostic — the AQ Assessor — yourself or amongst your team. It’s based on ‘Wardley’s Doctrine’ and explores how well your organisation uses 40 universally-useful habits and skills for adapting to change.

If your organisation is typical (and you’ve been honest about it) your results may show a lot of red, like the banking giant below. This shows that you’re committing a lot of self-harm. Therefore, any transformation program will be slow, expensive and ultimately disappointing.

Your aim should be to ‘turn the chart green’, like the e-commerce giant here. Now you’ll be fit enough to benefit from a transformation effort.

If you try to run a marathon while unfit you’re more likely to injure yourself than make it successfully to the end. So, if you want to improve organisational performance start by getting fit first, which means stopping self-harm.

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Marcus Guest

Govern the state by being straightforward; And wage war by being crafty. — Laozi, Tao Te Ching marcus@powermaps.net PowerMaps.net