The problem that every organization of scale will always wrestle with – from the Roman Empire, to Amazon – is that you can’t possibly tell everyone what to do and be right (too far from the customer) and you can’t have everybody doing wild and crazy things (variation is expensive and unsafe).
So, what is the best approach to navigate these problematic waters as we scale? Organizational Behavior Theory has a term for the target condition: Dynamic Equilibrium. Simply put, we want to target the middle ground between total control and total anarchy, but we need to have well defined heuristics for the situations in which we need to flex more in one direction or the other (temporarily) before retreating towards equilibrium.
Being a leader and coach is like being a doctor. The best-case scenario is one in which the patient (your local problem solver) remains healthy with proper diet and exercise (coach-supported problem solving). But sometime, the patient has an urgent situation that will not benefit from diet and exercise. If it’s a heart attack, we need the paddles. On these rare occasions, an organization must flex in and bring its full strength to bear on the problem. But if we use the paddles too often, the patient will come to expect it, abandon diet and exercise, and eventually die from the once life-saving treatment.
We at Service Physics help our partners build management systems to achieve Dynamic Equilibrium. They provide the basis for coaching, problem solving, and continuous improvement. We’ve seen these organizations pull away from the pack – and become truly unstoppable.