So I've been thinking today about this thing called an organisation and realised that work is actually like being a passenger in a new car. The first day you start out and the car is new, bright and shiny and still has that new fake leather smell to it. You get into the car, taking the driver's (CEO's) driving skills at face value that he looks pretty competent behind the wheel (he has managed to locate the steering wheel so all is good). You and your fellow passenger, get in the vehicle filled with dreams and ideas on how you are going to contribute to making this car better, quicker and faster and last for forever. Maybe you are good at how engines work (possibly an Engineer), or you have a plan for some making the car look at little better (Branding anyone??).
Bright and shiny and still has that new fake leather smell to it.
So the doors close and hopefully without hesitation, the CEO checks that everyone has fastened their seat-belts, turns the key and the engine fires into life. You and your subordinates are hopefully along for the ride in the vehicle to assist the CEO in giving direction where to go and what needs to be playing on the radio and what speed and style of driving will be required to reach the destination. The honeymoon stage of the new vehicle is still there and as you progress forward, the vehicle will eventually along the way pick up a scratch here and a dent there. All still good at this point.
Now what follows can take any of the next two extremes.
Scenario number one The driver and occupants are determined to not just keep the vehicle in good running order, the Engineers already found some things to tweak and Human Resources have identified a great new passenger to pick up at the next service stop. Dents are fixed, scratches looked after and care was taken to give a bit of TLC to the vehicle along the way. The driver and his passengers have a stress free journey, confident that even with all the dents and scratches that the vehicle has had and has been fixed before, the destination is still in sight and they can continue. There are even excitement over the new tyres that will be fitted and the driver has expressed his confidents that the vehicle will handle a lot better after they are fitted. High-fives all round.
Scenario number two As the car picks up a few kilometres and a few things needs to be serviced, the driver is expected to have the subordinates and service station fix the vehicle and keep it running smoothly. But at this stage the vehicle still feels new from behind the steering wheel and the driver continues, promising to have the dent and scratches fixed after just a few more kilometres. As the milage ticks by, subordinates are still happy to give input and happy to continue because they are going to stop and fix it some time soon. Right? Righttt..
A few years like this pass, and the vehicle looks pretty used at this point, but the engine is still churning over, momentum it seems can be persistent and the vehicle cannot be stopped at a moments notice (remember those breaks that needed servicing a few kilometres ago?).
The Service stations and subordinates are doing their best to patch things here and there, but its getting increasingly more expensive and difficult to keep the vehicle running smoothly (everyone is clinging to their credit cards with white knuckles at this point, refusing to see their Christmas bonuses go into repairing the vehicle). It is every man for himself at this point, with the occupants blaming each other for everything from the bad music to the sound the wheel is making around a corner.
Fast forward to where the vehicle is a few years down the line, and the occupants are already making alternative transport plans at this stage (Human Resources never did find the passenger again at the previous filling station that promised he'll be back in 5 minutes), because the vehicle is smoking, rattling, scratched and the spares are no longer being manufactured.