What We Do

We go after Intractable or Wicked Problems that keep people, especially managers and executives, awake at night.

What keeps you awake at night Intractable graph

You are losing sleep because fast changes in your business environment are overwhelming. Frustration is on the rise because:

  • Your carefully crafted department goals and objectives become quickly outdated due to unforeseen, uncontrollable events.
  • You find decision-making is extremely slow because there always seems to be one more stakeholder requiring negotiations.
  • New situations continually arise that were not considered when a business process was initially designed.
  • You call in so-called experts but, unfortunately, they see every issue as a nail because they are good at using their hammer.
  • You’re perplexed whether to pursue new opportunities that appear out of no where or let them pass.

You are worried that your people can’t handle the changes in the work environment in a safe manner. Here are some signs that your existing safety system has lost its effectiveness:

  • When you introduce more rules or more training, workers push back and/or choose to ignore them.
  • Reckless unsafe behaviour continues even though the safety rules are well known and understood.
  • When faced with an unexpected work barrier, workers choose to either stop and wait for further direction or perform unsafe workarounds to get things done their way.
  • Workers complain safety plans are focused on meeting regulatory requirements rather than helping them.
  • You want to believe your workers who say they are following all of the safety rules but your gut tells you something else.

Our Story

For years we helped clients improve their efficiency and effectiveness. Recommendations on strategy, process, organization structure, and so on were made and most were implemented. However, on subsequent follow-ups, we were often perplexed why the changes did not last very long. Why did people revert back too old habits and ways? Our initial question focused on what was wrong with the client and its workers. However, we then asked a better question: Was there something wrong with our approach and methods? Answer: Yes, there was. We were treating a symptom and not the underlying intractable problem. Essentially, we were putting a bandaid on a deeper wound that needed surgery.

Consultants also go through their own life cycle S-curve and require vigilant renewal to be relevant. So we went through our consulting toolkit and tossed out some old tools and replaced them with new ones more apropos for the 21st century. We now know how to identify an intractable problem, understand how it impacts the entire organization, and search for a sustainable system solution.

These are not Simple Fixes

While normal issues are at the operational and strategic level, we work on intractable problems that lie deep within an organization. Typically a change in culture or strongly-held paradigms is required.

Level of Difficulty
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Related References

Blog: A pathetic safety ritual recycled
Blog: Intractable Problem: The Public School Factory

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