I’m color blind, which is sometimes inconvenient. For example, when it’s dark, I can’t distinguish between a sodium street light and a red traffic light.
Recently, I noticed that when I drive a car in the dark on a route which I do not know well, I subconsciously look for light patterns in the air in front of me: If I see a light which does not fit the pattern of all other lights, I know it’s probably a traffic light.
This is an example of brain plasticity: The ability of our brain to rearrange its pattern of activity to overcome deficiencies. If you’re blind, some of the rear areas of your cerebral hemisphere, which usually deal with sight, are used for touch and sound to compensate for the lack of vision.
This happens with many organizations as well. Because of deficiencies, precious resources are used to create work-arounds.
For example, I used to work with an organization which had created a complete, elaborate and effective shadow Excel system, to compensate for the fact that its ERP planning system was only 95% effective.
Here is an interesting idea: If you want to improve the efficiency of an organization, look for what is working remarkably well, which objectively shouldn’t be working in the first place. This is often a sign of a subtle work-around to overcome real deficiencies. Next, focus on fixing the real deficiencies and eliminate the need for the work-around.
The areas where we have the most success against all odds, usually point to our biggest opportunities.