5. Control

For a number of organizations, consistency and the accurate implementation of strict procedure is vital. These aspects are especially important where errors can have extremely serious consequences (for instance, airlines, nuclear power plants, pharmaceutics) and in organizations where small details of information can lead to serious consequences (banks, insurance companies).

Here is a case in point:

“Our turnover is considerable. Our name is known and respected. Reputation is important in this business, because safety is the primary concern. Check, check again, and double-check. Official rules, Government prescriptions, you simply have no idea what we put ourselves through before the product is finally delivered. Thank goodness nothing ever goes really wrong – errors (such as there are) get detected and corrected at the very next step in the procedure.”

And the competition?

“They are all in the same boat. Mind you, supervision is strict, and that’s as it should be. The consequences of human errors can be disastrous in our line of work. What bothers me though, is the way some of these new start-ups seem to sail through the process in a flash. They are bound by the same rules, have the same supervisors… We call them ‘The Hornets’, but all the same..”

You don’t seem happy about it?

“Well, it raises the question how we can avoid over-perfectionism. Everything is so regulated, sometimes procedures become more important then results, even when it’s not necessary. Look at our meetings, they take forever. The client has become a ghost in the fog, rattling his chains in vain.

Maybe I should give them a real shock for a change – merge the front- and the back offices, what do you think?”


Should management fail to revitalize effectively, then the firm will generally slide into phase four. This situation is definitely one to be avoided. On the other hand, a firm by the very nature of its core business can be more or less compelled to remain in phase three.

The climate in such firms is characterized by a strong concern for quality and safety, and by responsibility for a perfect end result.

The business strategy sets store by reliability and security, but keeps a sharp eye out for the market and market developments; since the competition faces the same quality demands, the firm with the smartest operation can gain a considerable edge.

Both structure and leadership of the organization inevitably require strict and detailed regulation. However, it is important to keep in mind that this is a means towards an end, not an end in itself.

Improvement can take place in the existing organization. Breakthrough innovation however, depends on input from elsewhere, or must be bought in.