About 5 weeks ago, my wife told me about a problem she was having with our since-departed green van. She noticed that braking distance was increasing, and then, the warning light came on. She and my oldest son checked the brake fluid level, and discovered that it was low so they filled it. A few days later, the light again came on. They added more fluid, and the light went away. But, the problem did not. We took it to a local trusted repair shop, and they discovered the problem: both rear wheel cylinders were ruined. Each and every time the brakes were applied, brake fluid shot out, flooding the drums and shoes with brake fluid, making them completely ineffective. This would be a costly repair. $600, to be exact. We had no choice but to pay it, despite the expense.
Organizations often face similar dilemmas. The resolution, however, is frequently different. Something is amiss, but rather than pay the cost, the symptom is addressed. Back to my brakes…we really had a number of options:
We could have continued to refill the brake fluid.
We could have replaced the shoes.
We could have replaced the drums.
None of those would have solved the problem, they simply would have addressed the symptoms.
The problem was philosophical to the car. And, addressing it in any other manner would lead to continual failure, and in the long run, be more costly.
Like a car, an organization must have philosophical integrity. Problems must be addressed from a philosophical standpoint. It will be costly. It will hurt. It will create stress and conflict. But, anything less is organizational whack-a-mole.