I think this might be a general cultural problem, but I notice it a lot in my field of healthcare analytics. There are lots of “case studies” and “pathfinders”, that kind of thing, groups of people who are doing amazing stuff.
I don’t think that it has the desired effect though. People look at these groups doing incredibly complicated things with new tools and they think it just doesn’t apply to them. Let the pathfinders pathfind and we’ll just churn out some rubbish in Excel, same as last week.
I wonder if we’d be better off setting the bottom higher, rather than raising the bar at the top again. Instead of showing off amazing teams, showcase a solid team getting the basics right, week in, week out. And try to pose the question “If you’re not doing this stuff, why not?”
2 thoughts on “In defence of the ordinary”
I agree with this. One of the big problems in change management is a successful pilot scheme thinking it can then be rolled out elsewhere; it never works. The change comes from the people invested in it, and those champions and pathfinders can often feel far away. The strongest narrative I hear is ‘well it’s different here’. A better approach to improving all of us is needed.
A final thought is that organisational cultures; CEO’s, annual reports, conferences etc. all celebrate the pathfinders and the achievements which in many ways amplifies the problem you’ve outlined.
It’s a very human instinct, celebrating the extraordinary, but unhelpful here as you say.
Further evidence that data bods like myself should stop sneering at management research and teaching and actually listen to people who understand how to change things in organisations