These days, it seems that too many of the requests for help that flow my way from organizations resemble 911 calls. I get asked to mediate between warring parties, help with some severely tangled team dynamics, and act as mentor to exhausted leaders. Sometimes an intervention works, but it’s much harder to make a sick system well than to help a healthy system get even better. It’s the latter kind of situation that I much prefer.
In my ruminations—always dangerous to be sure—I think that some of my work is like those folks who help keep down the weeds in our homes and gardens. When the weeds take over, it’s hard to produce beautiful blooms and healthy produce. So here’s a little guide to typical weeds in the organizational garden. As you read, think about the noxious types you can identify in your local environment.