Method junkies: All or nothing

Recently a colleague of mine described a problem he has with his company. When the company management decides to undertake new initiatives, they select only those where they can implement “everything”. They had selected ISO9001 several years ago and thereafter everything was ISO9001 and quality based – to the detriment of other initiatives.

When they moved to CMM (as it was then known), everything was oriented around the use and compliance with CMM requirements. The ISO certification initiative (and some others) fell by the wayside.

Then of course came the upgrade to CMMI and then to 6 Sigma, and then to…you get the idea.

They did not appear to consider an approach of selecting the useful parts of existing initiatives – it was all or nothing. If they couldn’t do all of some initiative (perhaps wasn’t even relevant to the company), then they decided to do none of it.

Whilst this behavior can be admirable, when a company exhibits it constantly, the decision making needs to be carefully reviewed.

Very few methods in their entirety are appropriate to every company. Some form or tailoring is essential, as a method needs some variation to suit a company’s strengths and weaknesses.

Ask yourself

  1. Does my company have an all or nothing approach?
  2. Do we consistently use methods off the shelf
  3. Are we constantly changing our organization structure to suit new initiatives
  4. Are existing company methods reused or taken into context when adopting new/additional methods?
  5. Are our initiatives tailored to suit the business goals and needs (and not the other way around)
  6. Are some ideas evaluated and the useful components adapted?
  7. Why are some business ideas and methods selected and not others?

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