In bad environments…busy makes us feel good. It makes us feel productive. So we tend to spend our time rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic. And not because it is what we need to do, but because it feels good…feels like progress. Unfortunately, rather than engaging in the real work of attending to that environment, of repairing and healing the culture of the organization, we plunge ourselves and our organizations into meaningless busywork.
The only problem…
The ship is still sinking.
So, instead of fixing the real problem, instead of attending to the real issues within the organization, we just divert attention to other parts of the ship for short periods of time.
And yet, the problem still remains…
Until you attend to the gaping whole that exists in the bottom of the ship, the water will continue to pour in…and the ship will continue to sink. Dragging everyone farther and farther down and into the depths of the abyss…while nullifying any real attempts at forward progress or momentum.
Which is why toxic and dysfunctional environments, cultures, systems tend to stay the same, remain fixed in this state. Instead of doing the necessary, needed and difficult work of repairing and healing this toxic and dysfunctional state…leaders who are neither intentional or knowledgable focus on the busy, on the appearance of doing the real work. The necessary work.
The difficult work that is required of the leader.
In toxic and dysfunctional environments, we have leaders who focus on structures, programs, and answers…instead of processes, progress and questions. Leaders who focus on mandates and busy, over creating capacity. Leaders who are unable or unwilling to engage organizational learning. Leaders who focus on top-down pressure, as opposed to systemic, systemwide change that cascades across all levels of the organization.
Ultimately, we can’t expect our people and organizations to think different…if we are unable to get our leaders and leadership to think different.
So, instead of action, movement and flow within our organizations…we tend to drown ourselves in busyness and minutiae. And then wonder why we are sinking deeper and deeper into the depths of that abyss…depths mired in inaction and bureaucracy.
And we continue to wonder why the ship is sinking…