Continuous Improvement

How to fix the bugs in your organization

Learn the mindset that enables you to systematically improve how an organization or a team works and creates value.

The organization as an improvable product

The most common way of thinking about an organization is as a group of individuals working together towards a common purpose. This mental model of an organization or a team can be useful in many development and alignment efforts, but when it comes to improving or changing the organization, the focus on individuals gets in the way.

When managing change and improvement, it makes more sense to think of the organization as a standalone machine or a product with certains features and traits that can be amended, added to, and improved.

Organizational failures = Organizational bugs

Sometimes (a lot of the time, actually) things go wrong in an organization. One way to think about these failures are as organizational bugs.

An organizational bug is like a software/product bug in that an interaction with the product (in this case the organization) in a given context produces an outcome which is unexpected or undesirable.

In order to correctly identify organizational failures as bugs, there needs to be a blame-free culture throughout the organization.

In her article Strategies for Learning from Failure, Amy Edmondson explains:

When leaders are asked to consider which portion of the failures in their organizations that are truely blameworthy, their answers are usually in single digits (2% to 5%).

Yet, those same leaders admit that as much as 70 - 90% of failures are treated as blameworthy. This is not useful for morale, and even less so when it comes to identifying and fixing bugs.

Frustration as bug reports

A bug can most easily be recognized by a display of frustration from someone who comes in contact with the organization, be it an employee, a leader, a client, a board member, an investor or a vendor/partner.

The frustration is usually an indication of an expectation (explicit or implicit) not being met.

How to manage the organization as a product

In order to manage the organization as a product, there needs to exist a single source of truth describing and dictating how the organization operates. To borrow a term from software product management, we can think of this as the source code of the organization. More recently, systems managing the source code of an organization have come to be known as Digital Twins of the Organization (DTO).

A DTO establishes a digital representation of how the organization operates which can then be modified to reflect our best and most up-to-date understanding of how we should organize work.

Provided that the DTO has a means of deploying updates to the relevant people in a manner which allows them to grow familiar with the changes, we are now able to change and improve how the organization operates in a continuous and predictable manner.

How to fix organizational bugs

Fixing the bugs in your organization is a three-step process:

1. Identify a situation as an organizational bug

The identification of an organizational bug starts of by identifying frustrations or some other form of communication signaling an unexpected outcome.

2. Map the bug to one or more root causes

A bug can always be traced back to one or more expectations not being clearly communicated or sufficiencly understood and familiarized.

For help brainstorming and understanding which types of expectations that were insufficient for a given bug, utilize the list of information types that support familiarization within the Wecomplish Platform.

3. Implement long lasting fixes to the root causes of the bug

Implementing a long lasting fix means adapting and deploying a new version of the source code in your DTO.

For this purpose, you can use an insight management platform like the Wecomplish Platform, or a similar DTO-system which allows the organization to clearly and predictably communicate and improve familiarization with expectations.

If you need help getting started with insight management within your organization, feel free to get in touch and we will connect you with one of our insight management consultants for a free introductory session.