The Bureau of Windows that Face the Sun

When the fifth generation of Acme International took over, they decided to model themselves after the greatest success story in United States history—the Federal Government.  After all, the Government has been around for over 230 years, and recently had annual receipts in excess of 2 trillion dollars.  They must be doing something right.  Right?

So the company dumped their old boring managerial structure and reorganized to resemble branches of government.  Competitive pushing and shoving led to more changes, and with each new problem or conflict, they formed a new group to handle it.

For example, consider the new Department of Utilities (DoU).  As time went by, the DoU split into the Department of Water, Power, and Lighting (DWPL), and the separate Department of Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning (DHVAC).  After all, each department had different needs for expertise, equipment, and suppliers.

But then they ran into the problem of who’s in charge in areas with sunny windows.  Depending on the time of day, and the season of the year, those areas had wide variations in their lighting needs (covered by the DWPL) and wild swings in their heating and cooling needs (covered by the DHVAC).  After the usual arguing, they created the Bureau of Windows that Face the Sun (BWFS), and that took care of that.

Or did it?  The reactive patchwork of fixes and the contentious behavior continued to make things worse, and the company was approaching insolvency.  Grandpa Acme heard about it and rushed back from his retirement in Tahiti.  He gave the Chairman a wedgie and took back control of the company.

He led sweeping changes and reinstated the Founders’ Principles:

  • Get results based on overall goals
  • Satisfy the essential needs of the people we serve, and the people who help get it done
  • Use strong teamwork to achieve long-term success

The changes were difficult, but they worked, and everyone lived happily ever after.

So much for our fable.  The reality is that our landscape is full of companies and public service organizations wrestling with their own Bureau of Windows that Face the Sun.  The issues are complex, but the needs, the intellect, and the tools already exist for doing something about them.  Forget the blame; win the game.  Let’s get on with it.

George M. Pomonik
Pomonik Consulting, Inc.
“Chaos Removal Services”SM
www.pomonik.com

Copyright © George M. Pomonik, 2011. All rights reserved.

4 thoughts on “The Bureau of Windows that Face the Sun

  1. Hi George, I like your post. I’ve run into many “Bureau of Windows that Face the Sun” departments as a former salesperson in the ERP (enterprise resource planning) software industry and now as a marketing consultant. I ask, “Why do you do it this way?” and often hear, “We’ve always done it this way.” When you do business process re-engineering and map an organization’s processes, often many Bureau of Windows that Face the Sun emerge. The challenge is getting top-down support for changing them!

    • Thanks Jennifer. You raise two key points about successful change:
      1. Are we seeking meaningful answers to my favorite management question: “why are we doing this?”
      2. Is there visible support from the organization’s leaders?

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