Entropy is real, and it challenges the existence of great achievements. When a great job is completed, some will relax and move on, but the attentive worker will continue on and monitor that achievement and take action before small changes become erosion. My backyard tree has existed for years, and high winds recently brought it down. On examining the damage, I noticed that a gopher had been systematically eating at the roots of the tree to get moisture, and, based on what we saw, the animal had been doing this out of my sight for years.
On reflection, I know from experience that companies can be weakened in the same invisible way. There are gophers who will eat at the roots of a strong organization. These subtle forces of entropy will over time have a devastating effect:
- Lack of teamwork and teams operating in silos
- Politics and an absence of meritocracy in identifying future leaders
- Lack of respect for all employees
- Lack of investment in personnel development
Five years ago at Cambium Networks, we were suffering from these “gophers.” And our organization was shaky, especially when economic winds were not favorable. One by one we took action by:
- Removing the silos and leaders who create silos
- Fostering meritocracy as the means to advancement
- Publicizing key core values based on “respect for all”
- Mentoring and grooming leaders at all levels
These actions have now strengthened our roots and spurred fantastic economic growth. Now, even in challenging times, we have the ability to withstand adversity.
But fixing the problem is not enough. We must diligently care for the organization and watch for the subtle evidence of invisible underground “gophers” that eat the root system of any organization. If not detected and dealt with early, they are the most dangerous.