Organizational Dieting

Many of us have experimented with dieting and if we haven’t, we at least know someone that has.  There are quite a few dieting  options to chose from and no shortage of advice and testimonials on the effectiveness of each  diet .  People will do anything to promote the diet that worked for them.  I personally was of the Subway diet persuasion, made popular by Jared Fogle.

But while dieting can help with initial weight loss, it has been shown in studies that much more is actually needed in order to prevent the weight from coming back on.  A complete change in lifestyle (specifically in eating and exercise) needs to take place.  If permanent changes are not made, the pre-diet weight will be back on in a matter of time and will be harder to get rid of subsequently.  It’s also been shown that certain diets lend themselves more to permanent lifestyle changes than others.  Radical diets where extreme measures are taken generally do not teach new behaviors that stick.

So when is the last time your organization went on a diet and what were the results?  Have you recently been involved in a  “process improvement initiative”? An “innovation council”? An “Agile transition” ? Or a “Lean Six Sigma quality transformation”?  If you’ve been involved with any initiative/transformation/program then you’ve been on some sort of a diet.  I hope for your sake, the results were good.

But let me provide a word of caution regarding the results you may be seeing and their longevity.  If a cultural change did not take place within the organization, then the results will be short-lived.  If there hasn’t been a mindset shift, then sooner or later, the organization will revert back to its old ways.  If new behaviors were not learned, then the old behavior will sabotage whatever goodness may now exist.  When lost weight returns, it’s never pretty.  It’s almost as if it was never lost.

This is why its critical for “leaders” in organizations to pick the right diet that will lead to long-term change.  Losing 10 pounds for the wedding doesn’t cut it.  Many leaders buy into the latest diet being sold by a “change initiative” salesman and then wonder why their Agile transition failed after initial results were good or there Six Sigma program was productive for 3 months but collapsed dramatically after that.  It failed because just dieting in of itself is not enough.

The journey starts with picking the right diet but continues much longer after that.  In fact, it never ends.  When an organization picks a diet, it should be committing itself to CHANGE.  Long-lasting change at that.

Pick your diet wisely.  Choose a diet that will enable your organization to learn and develop new behaviors that will allow it to keep the weight off!


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