Why are our organizations failing?


The Veteran’s Administration.



Social Security.





And that’s just here in the United States. If we look around the world, the list becomes too long to enumerate.

At first glance, one would ask if the organization itself is inherently bad. I suppose arguments could be made both for and against. Perhaps laws need to be passed to help improve the situation.

Oh wait, wouldn’t that require a governmental, law-making system that worked?

And that just proves the point.

Was there a time when these entities did function appropriately? Sure. There were still problems, but people worked together to figure out solutions and at the end of the day kept things going in the right direction.

So what happened?

team2Have you ever had the chance to work in a new business, or nonprofit, or classroom where things really seemed to click? There was an excitement and people believed in what they were doing. If you think back, there really wasn’t anyone sitting around, waiting to be given a task. Everyone was running as hard and fast as they could. There was always more to do than could be done, but somehow, together, it got done anyway.

It makes me smile just to think about it. I bet it does you too.

But then in comes larger organizations from the outside. They are so thrilled with the magic that is happening that they want to reproduce it on a grander scale; make this work for more and more people.

But the efforts tend to fall flat. The other businesses don’t have the same excitement as the original. The nonprofit isn’t getting to as many clients as the prototype. The other classrooms aren’t producing the same caliber of student.

They followed the same format and template as the originals. But it was different. It wasn’t as great.

And so another sweeping mandate of changes to all leaves things, in many ways, the same as they were before.

It’s not that hard to figure out.

We don’t necessarily have an organizational problem.

We have a people problem.


The reason that the new business, or nonprofit, or classroom was so successful was because of the unique combination of individuals who believed passionately in what they were doing. Customers, clients, and students were also seen as wonderful, unique individuals who needed their help.

And they were only too happy to give it.

Why aren’t we producing more of these unique individuals who actually care more about the success of the team and overall goal, than making a bonus, or getting a promotion, or just passing through on their way to something better?

Perhaps we could look at where individuals come from.

The family.

For generations going back 100’s of years, parents invested their time, energy, and focus on raising children who would become actively contributing adults. They knew that to be an active, contributing adult one needed to have self-discipline, a sense of self-worth, and a community where they were valued and needed. It was hard to get in trouble, because everyone was watching and helping and scolding and encouraging.

Growing up, the worst thing any child heard was “I’m going to call your parents.” We all knew that there was nothing the teacher or neighbor or store owner could do that would be as bad as what your parents would do.

And we knew that they would do it.

Funny, but that knowledge was one of the critical factors in our development of self-worth. Someone cared enough to correct us when we were on the wrong course, and help get us back on track.

But not so much today.

Today parents are not focused on the generation to come, but rather on the current one they are a part of. There is no forward thinking past the amount of money one will have in their retirement to support the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed.

There is no threat in calling someone’s parents.

You’d probably just get their voicemail anyway.

Past, present, future.

All are indelibly linked; we can’t separate them and only focus on where we are now, or what we want now, or how things are now.

By looking back to past generations and finding what worked well, then step by step today we are able to build a solid future.

Not just for us.


But for them.

Don’t they deserve to be excited, working in that new business, or nonprofit, or classroom that is coming together, getting more done that is humanly possible, and marveling at the magic of it all?

The magic comes not only from the outcome of the organization, but more importantly from the unique, individual relationships built with the team.

Imagine what they could do at the V.A., or with immigration, or in improving welfare, or making sure that the safety net of Social Security is still there, or helping everyone get a strong education, or quality healthcare. Wallstreet may not be the shark tank it has become.

And just think of what politics could be.

If you are a child now, looking to the future, ask your parents for help and involvement and constructive criticism, and most importantly love. Then do what they tell you to do.

If you have a child now, your responsibility is great. We can’t just get through today. We are building tomorrow.

One unique relationship at a time.


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