I read an article recently about roots on trees. It made me think about organization health and the implementation of Lean.
I live on a farm with many trees and several wooded areas. I frequently deal with large trees that are toppled over in the wind. They appear to be large and strong, however, they are top-heavy with an under-developed or rotten root system. On the other hand, I am amazed at some of the trees that stand tall and stable in a mighty storm and wind. They, on the other hand, have a strong and vibrant root system. The roots are what let the tree adapt to changes in seasons, storms and climates. They grab the necessary moisture and nutrients to support the growth we can all see above the ground.
As I have said in the past, organizations are like living organisms. The lesson here, is that strong roots stabilize the organization, provide the fuel for growth, allowing the organization to weather the inevitable economic and market storms.
So, when organizations fail as an ongoing concern or, fail to adapt and thrive, they often have a “root problem”…bad culture, bad strategy, bad processes and often bad leadership. When Lean does not thrive it is often for the same reasons.
It takes time and hard work to develop an effective “root system”. One cannot wish for it. One has to work for it, lead it, and orchestrate it. The stronger and deeper the roots, the more likely the organization is to succeed. It is not a quick, easily developed, or implemented process. Organization development and Lean take time and thoughtful hard work, but, the pay-off is tremendous in assuring a long-lasting and vibrant organization.
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