Are You Wrestling with the Menace of Organizational Memory

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Yesterday I posted an article explaining one of Vijay Govindarajan’s ideas from his important talk at the Global Leadership Summit.  If you missed it, I’d suggest going back and read Transform Your Ministry with the Three Box Approach.  Very important stuff.

Today, I want to dive in one more time to one of Govindarajan’s points in his article, The CEO’s Role in Business Model Reinvention.  In yesterday’s post I described his three box approach to organizational reinvention.  You’ll remember that Box 1 is about preservation, Box 2 is about destruction, and Box 3 is about creation.

Box 2 might seem straightforward, prune underperforming or outdated ministries and programs.  But I want to draw your attention to what he refers to as a “less-evident menace: organizational memory.”  Here’s how he describes the challenge:

As managers run the core business, they develop biases, assumptions, and entrenched mind-sets. These become further embedded in planning processes, performance evaluation systems, organizational structures, and human resources policies. Organizational memory is particularly powerful in companies that tend to promote from within and to have homogeneous cultures, strong socialization mechanisms, and long track records of success. Such deeply rooted memory may be great for preservation (box 1), but if it is not tamed sufficiently (box 2), it gets in the way of creation (box 3). That’s why all box 3 initiatives must start in box 2. Bottom line: Before you can create, you must forget.

Can you see how built-in biases, assumptions, and entrenched mind-sets might be clouding your ministry evaluation?  As I reflect on arm-wrestling sessions in the past about ministry effectiveness and new ideas, I can see clearly the impact of bias, assumptions, and mind-sets.  And while I can’t change what happened in the past, I can influence the way going forward by incorporating fresh eyes to discussions on change as well as new awareness of the menace of organizational memory.  See also, What In Your Ministry Is Off-Limits for Debate,

What do you think?  Have a question?  Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.

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