Most business fads do have at least some inherent value — that's why so many organizations adopt them. But as we saw last time, their inherent value can degrade as the fad itself gathers adopters. In this part of our exploration, we turn our attention to the hidden costs associated with adopting ideas or methods that have acquired — or that eventually do acquire — fad status.
- Costs can be internal
- When estimating the costs of adopting an idea or method, we tend to focus on cash outlays, but many costs of adoption can be internal. Costs can appear as lost production, lost sales, compromised quality, confusion, political strife, degraded morale, employee cynicism, and much more, most of it difficult to measure. Examples of the sources of these losses include time spent training and learning, employees recognizing the fad potential of the new method, and disruption of interpersonal relationships.
- Since adopting a new idea or method can be expensive in both measurable and non-measurable costs, be very certain that it isn't a fad. Fads usually just aren't worth adopting.
- Costs can lag adoption
- Many of the costs of adopting fads, espSome fads are stickyecially the non-measurable costs, appear not in advance of or during the adoption effort, but much later. For instance, companies that downsized aggressively in the 1990s lost access to many of their experienced employees and much of their organizational memory, from both the downsizing and the voluntary turnover it inevitably stimulates.
- Adopting a fad can leave a lasting legacy of recurring cost that can hobble the organization for years.
- Investments in fads can be volatile
- The investments we make when adopting fads are different in character from investments we make when buying equipment, or creating new products, or outfitting new space. Some investments in fads are volatile because we have little ability to protect them.
- Fads that involve personal training are more likely than most to carry with them volatile costs. For instance, when we purchase a computer, we have the ability to keep it in our possession. But when we train an employee to use the Myers-Briggs model, and spend real money to determine that employee's Myers-Briggs type, that investment evaporates when the employee leaves the company.
- Some fads are sticky
- One of the defining features of fads is that they eventually pass on. After adopting a fad, we adopt something else, undoing the work we did when we adopted it. But some fads, once adopted, are very difficult to leave behind. They stick.
- Methods and ideas that require changes to policies and procedures are often stickiest, because changing policies and procedures is difficult by design. Especially sticky are fads involving human resources procedures. When adopting them we rarely consider the costs of letting go.
Is your organization embroiled in Change? Are you managing a change effort that faces rampant cynicism, passive non-cooperation, or maybe even outright revolt? Read 101 Tips for Managing Change to learn how to survive, how to plan and how to execute change efforts to inspire real, passionate support. Order Now!
Your comments are welcomeWould you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenSQpqpjZKoZtcPhxaner@ChacSwzFpHBCVjqgEJuCoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.
About Point Lookout
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.
Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.
Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.
More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
- Snapshots of Squirming Subjects
- Today we use data as a management tool. We store, recall, and process data about our operations to help
us manage resources and processes. But this kind of management data is often scattered, out of date,
or just plain incorrect, and taking a snapshot doesn't work. There is a better way.
- Enjoy Every Part of the Clam
- Age discrimination runs deep, well beyond the hiring decision. When we value each other on the basis
of age, we can deprive ourselves and our companies of the treasures we all have to offer.
- Accepting Reality
- Those with organizational power can sometimes forget that their power is limited to the organization.
Achieving high levels of organizational and personal performance requires a clear sense of those limits.
- Ethical Debate at Work: II
- Outcomes of debates at work sometimes favor one party, not only at the expense of the other or others,
but also at the expense of the organization. Here's Part II of a set of guidelines for steering debates
toward wise outcomes.
- Down in the Weeds: I
- When someone says, "I think we're down in the weeds," a common meaning is that we're focusing
on inappropriate — and possibly irrelevant — details. How does this happen and what can
we do about it?
See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming April 25: Narcissistic Behavior at Work: VI
- Narcissistic behavior at work distorts decisions, disrupts relationships, and generates toxic conflict. These consequences limit the ability of the organization to achieve its goals. In this part of our series we examine the effects of exploiting others for personal ends. Available here and by RSS on April 25.
- And on May 2: Narcissistic Behavior at Work: VII
- Narcissistic behavior at work prevents trusting relationships from developing. It also disrupts existing relationships, and generates toxic conflict. One class of behaviors that's especially threatening to relationships is disregard for the feelings of others. In this part of our series we examine the effects of that disregard. Available here and by RSS on May 2.
I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenXmxuiLOvLMdRPAwnner@ChacxvPsKxtnqRvGbawCoCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.
Get the ebook!
Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:
- Get 2001-2 in Geese Don't Land on Twigs (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2003-4 in Why Dogs Wag (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2005-6 in Loopy Things We Do (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2007-8 in Things We Believe That Maybe Aren't So True (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2009-10 in The Questions Not Asked (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get all of the first twelve years (2001-2012) in The Collected Issues of Point Lookout (PDF, USD 28.99)
Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info
- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
- Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.