Change programmes are often weak and sometimes dysfunctional when they fail to change the system.

Some examples:

Customer care programmes: People are told to care for the customer but the system won’t let them do it. That can be dispiriting.

Quality / lean / six-sigma tools training: People are trained in tools and techniques and expected to employ them to solve problems managers think they have. But are these the real problems? Does reporting results up the hierarchy take over from doing constructive things?

Mystery shopping: Gives managers data about their staff’s conformance to specified requirements. Does this behaviour match what matters to customers? What do we expect staff to do with the dissonance? How does it feel to be inspected?

Self-assessment: In comparing our organsiations to models, we assume that the models are valid. Are they? To the extent they are not we will only increase the amount of well-intended but useless activity. Who will speak up?

The fastest way to make strong and sustainable change is to remove the causes of sub-optimisation.