One of the most significant issues for success is tenacity. One of the things that we found is that designing organizations is, first of all, never done. Even organizations that develop a great design and create high performance, if they aren’t building continuous renewal and reinvention and rethinking into their organization design, entropy will eventually take over. They’ll decline in performance. None of these solutions and even the book’s solutions are a recipe for success for the next century unless you do them all and keep doing them all. Consequently, there’s a whole chapter on learning and improvement and the ways to learn.
It is about learning, and it’s about learning forever. Learning things about your organization that nobody else knows. In other words, it is creating new strategies, creating new ways of doing things, testing them, finding out what works, what doesn’t work. You’re not going to find those answers in a book. You’re going to find those answers by conducting your experiments. But you first have to come up with a cool new design to test. So that’s a continuous process, and it just never ends. Back in the quality movement, we used to say it’s a journey without an end. It’s not a very good marketing pitch because most of you are likely saying, “okay, I don’t want any of that. I want something I can accomplish and be done with.” When we figure that out, we will package it because we could make a lot of money. If we figured out the solution to organizational performance that will be fixed for a hundred years, we’d really be good. But we haven’t, and I don’t know anybody who has.
Develop or Decline
If we’re not continually learning, our organization is getting stale and probably declining. So you may not have to grow in quantity, but you have to develop continuously. Development vs. growth is a Russell Ackoff concept I got from a talk he did 30 years ago. He said I quit growing in size somewhere in my late teens, but I’ve been developing and getting better since then. Whether we’re growing in size or developing, we’ve got to be developing. The same is true for our organization. That’s the only way we know to stay on the leading edge and stay competitive and be relevant in a fast-changing marketplace.