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The Cogs, The Operator, and The Programmer

Building on my article yesterday, I kept thinking about our system and why cogs cannot make a difference. I see people in senior roles and they behave the exact way as the smaller cogs, run as they are programmed. We expect them to make a difference yet, we still have CHROs talking about food as their employee engagement tool.

The machine or the cog system, is built in a way that you don't get to see through the whole system, you only see the ones around you so you can respond as necessary. Every cog has a role and that role is decided by the person who programmed the machine.

That person has decided, per design, that this is what that cog must do for the machine to work. An attempt to do something differently would impact the entire system unfortunately by design the cog cannot see that.

So the cog thinks "I could do this differently with the same or better result so why don't they let me?"


The cog thinks "None of this makes any sense why do we keep doing this?"

So the cog, as it was taught, goes around to influence up and down. It manages to get all the other cogs to see the problem and the new way of doing things, yet, nothing changed. "Why?" asks the cog. "Guys, we can make that change if we all work together, it is up to us we run this machine," says the cog not noticing that all the cogs are in a closed system and the programmer of that system is no longer there.

The operator of the machine (higher management) is not in charge of the programming it is only in charge of switching the machine on and making sure it runs by maintaining the cogs and the overall system.

The cogs of the machine (executors of the programming) run as per the program and are based on the quality of maintenance provided by the operator.

The programmer of the machine (who designed the organisation: business owner, shareholders and sometimes the executive board members) is often not present. They are the ones with the ability to reprogram the machine allowing the cogs to do things differently but why would they do that when for them the machine is running well? And if it doesn't they order the maintenance team (higher management) to fix the problem.

Apart from the fact that the programmer is not present or doesn't see the need to reprogram a running machine, there is one more crucial aspect to the way the system is programmed. Programmers use established and tested codes to operate systems unfortunately, these codes were established by Henry Ford in 1903.

And this is why change doesn't happen in organisations. We need to get new codes and programmers. If you are open to this let me know we are here to reprogram your organisation.

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