http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-three-cog-gears-detail-image26935119If you read business management journals, you’d be forgiven for believing that the best ideas on management come from academia or consulting firms. What used to be the province of executives reporting on business results has become a place for “emerging” management ideas. While many of the concepts presented are both interesting and backed up by research, there has been no shortage of negative reaction from management ranks about the implausibility of some of the ideas.

Most criticism comes from those who have applied some of these innovative ideas in the “real world.” To be fair, any best practice is only “best” relative to its appropriate implementation. However, just because something is logical, has worked before and looks like it will work does not make it workable for you.

Look at the image associated with this post. The analogy of gears working together supposedly represents efficient, synchronous, comfortable operations. We could only hope that the machinery of our company meshed this well.

However, a closer look reveals a fatal flaw. The three gear wheels are interlocked and, as configured, can’t move without stripping the teeth on at least one. What looks good as installed can’t work in operation. When considering a new practice, mechanism, or even person, take the time to think through whether this change will actually work with all of the other “gears” in your machine.

This applies particularly to new concepts proposed by external advisors, who may not know your operations very well. At a minimum, ask that your advisor vet these ideas against other disciplines. Does it pass legal, financial, operational, cultural and other tests. Is it consilient? This process reduces the risk that you will be left with a cutting-edge but nonworking model.

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