The Engines of Disharmony

If your culture is positive, it is despite Engines of Disharmony that result in turnover, getting less done, sub-optimization and a degree of dissatisfaction at all levels.  On June 8, 2009, Eli Goldratt wrote the following letter which is powerfully applicable to all of us.  IDEA attacks these engines directly converting them into Engines of Harmony!


From a letter by Eli Goldratt to a manager investigating improving:

“Every manager, especially a top manager […], is well aware of the impact of increasing the motivation, initiative, synchronization, willingness to collaborate and communication among his people.  All those “soft” issues are actually the hardest, most important ingredients that determine the capabilities of the company.  Unfortunately, the prevailing approach to improving these issues revolves around dealing directly with the people.  Let’s take motivation as an example.  As long as we think that the way to increase a person’s motivation is to talk with him, don’t we actually assume that the cause for his lack of sufficient motivation resides with the person himself?

From my experience, I’m convinced that the root cause for insufficient motivation (or communication, or synchronization etc.) is the existence of engines of disharmony.  One type of these engines of disharmony is the existence of conflicts.  Of course, putting a person under a conflict doesn’t contribute much to his motivation. [Operating according to an S&T Tree] removes some of those conflicts and therefore every time that [it] is implemented the result is not just better performance but also a considerable increase in motivation and collaboration.  See, for example, the quote from the most popular book on Critical Chain Project Management in Japan. “

“Although there are multiple cases documenting “several hundred million yen profit increase in a few months”, many of them don’t regard making money itself as the success. Actually, many readers’ comments are along the following lines: “Of course I am surprised and happy with the dramatic profit increase in such a short time. But far more important for me is people’s personal and professional growth. Widely spreading teamwork, motivation increasing across the company: I have always wanted our company to be like this!”

– CCPM, by Yuji Kishira

“Unfortunately, not only in every organization is there likely to be many more conflicts, but there are other (not less powerful) types of engines of disharmony.”

  1. “What is my contribution? Many people don’t really know (cannot clearly verbalize) how what they are doing is essential to the organization.   Would you be motivated if you were in that position?”
  2. “What is my peer’s contribution? Most people don’t really know how what many of their colleagues are doing is essential, or at least contributes to the organization.   Would you be collaborative, if you where in that position?”
  3. “Conflicts. People are operating under conflicts.”
  4. “Inertia. Many people are required to also do tasks for which the reason no longer exists.  People’s intuition is always strong enough to feel it, but not always is it strong enough to convincingly express their sense it to their superiors.  [Do you think management listens well enough to even be in a position to hear?]”
  5. “Gaps between responsibility and authority.  You, like any other manager, know firsthand how frustrating it is to have something you are responsible for accomplishing, but you do not have the authority for some of the actions that must be taken.”

“The experience gained in removing (even partially) those types of engines of disharmony is more than enough to realize that, if we systematically remove the above engines, we are bound to get the desired culture change.  The huge positive ramifications are obvious.  Moreover, such an effort will augment and expedite the initiative to change the prime operational measurement (inventory) and institute the right procedures (CCPM).”