The Weekly Reflektion 22/2024

The need for change is almost inevitable. The change may be a response to external factors. It may internally driven and be intiated to achieve existing or new objectives, for example, improved safety, better financial performance, or even survival. The intention of the change is always positive. Failure to manage the change properly can however result in very unfortunate and tragic consequences.

Are you managing your organisational changes in a proper manner?

Terry Pratchett created the wonderful ‘Discworld’, a fantasy world consisting of a disc carried on the back of four elephants supported by the giant turtle ‘Great A’Tuin’ as it swims through space. On ‘Discworld’ the world is actually flat, and you can fall off the edges. The Discworld novels contain many legends, fairy tales and folk customs from our own world, although with a definite Pratchett slant. The stories give us an interesting insight into our own world and the way it works. Pratchett is the embodiment of parody and not to be missed by anyone with a good sense of humour. 

In the ‘Reaper Man’ the bosses of the Discworld, ‘The Auditors of Reality’, decide to embark on an organisational change to save some money. ‘Death’, who on Discworld is the legendary figure of the skeleton with the black cloak, and a scythe over his shoulder, is laid off. Since everyone on Discworld was mortal then they would die anyway, so why employ a figure like ‘Death’, he was obviously surplus to requirements. After a meeting with his line manager who communicated the fateful news, ‘Death’ was sent off with best wishes and a well-earned gold watch.  ‘Death’ makes his way to the unemployment office for an interview regarding a career move. ‘Death’ is of course a hazy figure and difficult to focus on. He was also reluctant to speak about his previous position and hence relate his experience. The scythe was however easily recognisable to the career advisor, and he advised farmwork. ‘Death’ applied for a position as a farmworker. The farm was run by an old farmers wife who was nearly blind,and she liked ‘Death’ and saw his potential. ‘Death’ quickly improvised on his name and came to be known as ‘Bill Door’. Death as Bill Door is soon having the time of his life, finding green pastures that he could use his scythe as it was intended for.

The Discworld however was not functioning as it should have. When people reached the time when their deaths weredestined, they did die, however they did not leave. This was of course ‘Death’s’ purpose, collecting ad escorting the dead to the other side. Soon Discworld was full of dead people with the many awkward and embarrassing situations that arose. One example being the tendency to talk positively about people when they die even though they were right &%#¤”s.Only to find them turning up and thanking everyone for theirkind words. The organisational change was not so well thought through.

On 25th September 1998 an explosion occurred at the Esso natural gas plant at Longford in Victoria, Australia. Two workers were killed and eight other injured. Esso blamed the accident on plant operator’s negligence. A Royal Commission came to different conclusions. Among the factors identified was the training of personnel and poor operating procedures. An organisational change prior to the explosion relocated plant engineers to head office and thereby reduced the quality of supervision. The process operators were left without adequate engineering support, and they handled a plant upset incorrectly. Another organisational change that was not so well thought through.    

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