I spy a dysfunction in the house

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  • 4 min read

Charlie is at his wits end. He and his team suffer from their organisation’s bad practices on a daily basis and he has had enough. He writes his resignation letter, listing a dozen problems.

Some of you will recognise this as the start to my new book, a story about a fictional organisation called Nuttinghams. But I wonder how many of Charlie’s problems you also suffer?

Let’s see how many of Charlie’s list you recognise in your organisation:

  1. Barry, or one of his sales team, promises the world to our suppliers and customers without consulting us (i.e. the people who will actually be building the product or service)
  2. We are then either given a document that prescribes in detail what the sales person wants us to produce or we are given no information and have to chase the sales team to find out what the hell they mean
  3. The sales team claims that the request has come from real-life customers, but we know that many of the requests come from third parties, or the sales team has just thought them up
  4. Therefore, we are building the service or product in hope that our customers will actually use it without any evidence of that being true
  5. The rest of the business is command-and-control, giving none of the teams who are actually building the products or services any input into what it is they are doing
  6. We are not allowed contact with our customers or even third parties
  7. We are always told what to build, never why. The goal seems to be to build a product or service rather than benefit Nuttinghams or our customers in some measurable way
  8. We are rarely asked how long it will take, how much it will cost or who is needed to create the product or service; someone else usually gives a commitment on our behalf. On the rare occasions that we are consulted, our estimates are negotiated, reduced or completely ignored
  9. We are reprimanded when we “finish late” (even though we didn’t provide the timescale that someone else committed us to and/or something outside our control has caused a delay)
  10. The product or service only goes live once everything is finished and it has been polished to perfection, but we then receive requests to change elements that “haven’t worked” (i.e. someone told us to build the wrong thing)
  11. We never hear if the product or service actually makes money or is well-received by our customers
  12. Nobody is held accountable for the requested service or product, which just encourages people to continue sending us spurious requests.

How did you score?

0 – 1 The Tiger … or the Ostrich?
Wow, you are a lucky thing … or you have your head in the sand?
2- 4The Cheetah
Looks like you’re in a great position. I suspect that you already have these remaining imperfections in your sights.
5-7The Elephant
You’ve got a reasonably big task ahead of you, but you can do it. Make a list of the problems, get people to help you, and start chipping away at them.
8-12The Turkey (or the Dodo?)
It’s bad … but who wants to work somewhere with no problems? Not us. So, what are you going to tackle first? Who can help you on your journey?

The above scores are only meant to be a bit of fun. However, whichever one you are, there are always improvements to be made.

Fortunately for Charlie, The Innovation Revelation charts his journey into a better world by engaging users and challenging Nuttinghams’ ways of working. How can you improve your situation? Which one of the issues deserves your immediate attention? How will you know if you’ve improved the situation?


The Innovation Revelation: A story about how to satisfy customer needs is available on Amazon now (paperback and ebook).


Image credit: Nick Harris
(CC BY-ND 2.0)

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