“There is no such thing as a dysfunctional organization, because every organization is perfectly aligned to achieve the results it gets.” – Jeff Lawrence.
We were asked to comment on this statement. Here is our reply.
The word dysfunctional contains the prefix dys- from the Greek meaning “bad”, “abnormal”, “difficult”, or “impaired”. We can say that an organization is dysfunctional when it works in a way that is not consistent with the goal it’s supposed to pursue.
Why would that happen? Because there is a lack of clarity and understanding of the goal. This could easily produce dysfunctional organizational behaviour, meaning behaviour that’s not consistent with that goal. Very often, what could be perceived as dysfunctional toward a stated goal can be extremely functional for a non-verbalized one.
Is Amazon Dysfunctional?
Amazon, regardless of how much we may dislike the way it treats its people, is perfectly functional for a goal that we might find unacceptable. On the other hand, organizations with stated goals that we might like may have dysfunctional organizational behaviours because their leaders are not able to structure and manage the interdependencies correctly. In other words, they are not able to minimize the gap between the goal and a coherent way of behaving. It’s that gap that creates the dysfunctionality.
Mind the gap
What we do at Intelligent Management is to help organizations with a structured and powerful approach so they can close that gap. How? By understanding, shaping and managing interdependencies in a way that maximizes their coherence with their stated goal. As long as it’s ethical, of course. And ethical means delivering value not just to the customer but to the entire supply chain, and, indeed, beyond. Jeff Bezos of Amazon may well have read Goldratt’s ‘The Goal’ but he completely missed the bigger picture.
Thanks to the Human Current Podcast for asking us such a great question! You can find our conversation with them here:
About the Author
Angela Montgomery Ph.D. is Partner and Co-founder of Intelligent Management, founded by Dr. Domenico Lepore. She is co-author with Domenico Lepore and Dr. Giovanni Siepe of the forthcoming ‘Quality, Involvement, Flow: The Systemic Organization’ from CRC Press, New York. Angela’s new business novel+ website The Human Constraint looks at how Deming and the Theory of Constraints can create the organization of the future, based on collaboration, network and social innovation.