Southwest paradox (2)

Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

A couple more thoughts on The Southwest Paradox I blogged yesterday.

When we chatted Michael Herman pointed out that the unsuccessful airlines can’t be separated clinically from Southwest. They’re the context in which Southwest is successful. You could say their failure is a key part of Southwest’s success. And simply replicating Southwest will change the context and make the model invalid. (Does this make sense?)

I suppose it’s like a phenomenon I’ve seen in groups. One person in the group takes the role of, say, troublemaker. And often gets scapegoated for it. But if he stops, or becomes compliant, after a while someone else starts causing trouble… as if there is a systemic need for troublemaking, it’s not down to one person just being difficult.

If everyone in the group pursued some daft “best practice” for group behaviour, the trouble doesn’t get made. But eventually, the system demands some trouble. The model fails.

“How-to” modelling always strips bits of a complex system of some part of their context, rendering the model questionable at best.

This is one reason I dislike all these complicated diagrams that are used to “explain” how to run companies. It seems to me that parts of the puzzle of organisations get modelled in labourious detail and then cut away from all the complex things that feed them. You get clever, complicated, intimidating diagrams that are – quite literally – removed from reality.

Another fragment for my emerging preference for…Simple Ideas, Lightly Held, Joyfully Practised.

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