I’ve been doing business for a long time, but I am still shocked by the appalling clumsiness of big organizations.
After decades of Lean and Six Sigma, ISO 9000 and all the other baloney foisted upon us by consultants, the big organizations have capitulated to the sloth of the manual. The playbook keeps getting thicker and more clogged with sticky, obfuscating bubble gum. Decision making is becoming decision avoidance. Only after a disaster strikes will companies decide to buy a generator. If a crisis is sitting in the lobby, big companies ask it to leave because they have a meeting.
One of today’s leading operational impediments is SAFETY. Whether it is the threat of OSHA, insurance inspectors, over zealous lawyers or just “Six Sigmasizing,” I do not know, but the safety bureaucrats seem to have gained veto power in big companies.
I know big metal cutting machines can be dangerous, but they are not hot air balloons with a smoking pilot. Put a fire suppression system in, a good mist collector, proper guards, clear signage and go make parts.
Unfortunately, what I see today is safety becoming the excuse to slow down production and productivity growth.
Legal strictures on safety and many other issues seem to be vaulting onto the shop floor. The creative productive folks who produce things chafe under the 15 page legal scrolls tying their wrists when they want to make something good happen — like trying to buy a piece of capital equipment or institute an innovative process. The “cover your behind” epidemic has certainly taken root on the shop floor. The poor folks who work for big companies, governments, or schools live in fear of “Legal,” which is shorthand for mindless bureaucratic obstruction.
Large organizations are inherently conservative and lethargic, but the slow-as-molassesness seems to be getting worse these days. Banks blame Dodd-Frankenstein for their slowness, but why does a loan agreement have be 59 unreadable pages and a mortgage take six months to obtain? Government blames government. Companies call it CORPORATE. It all spells slowwwww.
We can blame Congress, lobbyists, Obama or George Clooney, but ultimately the fault lies within ourselves for allowing life by bureaucracy. It’s probably why Amazon and Netflix are so successful. These companies reroute us around delay and inertia with their efficient processes.
The bureaucratic, legal obstructionism bodes well for small and medium sized job shops who can help the clumsies stand up when their own inept practices push them toward collapse.
Question: Are lawyers the problem or the solution?