The Temptation of Waste and The Fall of Organizations

The greatest trick Waste ever pulled was convincing the Organization it didn’t exist.

Waste does not look like an enemy, it appears as a friend-in-need. Waste is the extra team member that can lighten the load. Waste is just one more meeting, spreadsheet, or status report that makes bosses feel good. Waste gives us a margin of error in our schedules or inventories. Waste is nice to have.

Waste doesn’t feel like waste when we’re wasting time. We feel like we’re doing real work when we check boxes off our to-do list. We think we see work getting done as we delete emails. Waste feels safe.

And Waste has style. Waste is driven to the airport in a Benz, flies first class, and eats filet mignon with a bottle of Bordeaux. Waste has a big leather chair, a mahogany desk, a giant Mac desktop, and a great view of the City from the floor-to-ceiling office windows. Waste brings everyone to Vegas or Jamaica or Cancun at the end of the year for grand parties.

Waste is the way we’ve always done it, the status quo. It’s the way we do things around here. And, hey, it’s working. Waste ain’t broke, so why fix it?

Because Waste looks like an old friend, the antidotes are never met with ticket-tape parades. Efficiency, precision, and urgency do not sound like friendly notions. New-comers and consultants, who can spot Waste immediately, appear as would-be villains. Fighting complacency takes hard work, and changing old habits is scary. What was wrong with old way? Am I going to get wasted by this new direction? 

Why not just look the other way? Because investors pay for growth. If they wanted their money to stay the same size, they’d let the government borrow it. The investors gave your company money to get a return. The cost of growth is killing Waste wherever it is found, and sometimes that means growing pains. And so those who fight Waste are the unsung heroes of the Organization.

The Fall

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