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Once again... The Problems of Complacency

I’ve written blogs in the past about the problems with complacency. I know that Tom Peters and John Kotter speak about this all time in their writings and speeches. Well, the terrible news in the Gulf of Mexico brings the issue of complacency to mind again.

I don’t think there is any doubt that one of BP’s problems was complacency. Since there hadn’t been any problems in the past, why should they think there would be problems in the future? BP was suffering from a bad case of complacency... Maybe, the managers thought, they could even push the envelope a bit regarding the strictest safety standards... complacency again! Even when the leak started, they seemed to put all their eggs in one basket - the first "cap"... they didn’t seem to have a comprehensive set of back up plans ready to go. Once again they were complacent.

Companies, like BP can get complacent. Government agencies can get complacent, too (think of the Challenger Disaster for NASA and of Katrina). Toyota got complacent about its standards of quality.

We all need to work against complacency. How do you do this? Part of the answer is awareness. Part of it also requires a regular review of processes and procedures. Part of it falls on leaders who need to be aware and willing to challenge the status quo. Human nature tends to fall on complacency. We become comfortable and unwilling to challenge assumptions. But in order to avoid real problems, leaders, managers, and all employees need to try an overcome this natural impulse...

Posted under John Kotter, Tom Peters, Leadership, Corporate Strategy by Stewart on Jun 14, 2010 | Comments: 0 | Post a comment»

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