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Any individual in the workplace has come across “ the workaround culture” problems you encounter during the course of your working day, which you manage to navigate, successfully to do your job. However you do not tackle the existing problem and are forced to work around it again the next time you encounter it.

Anita Tucker, associate professor of business administration in technology and operations management at Harvard Business School, has identified types of workaround cultures in a study of nurses at leading hospitals in the US. While these workarounds - such as borrowing medical equipment from another unit - work in the short term, in the longer term they can lead to medical errors, wasted resources - the time taken to locate and return the equipment and contribute to employee burnout, says Prof Tucker.

It can also she adds, create an established workaround culture in the organisation, which can in turn prompt people to dismiss the idea of trying to improve the situation and lead them instead to learn to live with the problem.

Prof Tucker’s research identifies an organisation’s policies and managerial behaviour as at the root of the issue. If a nurse believes that by alerting his or her manager to the problem it will be resolved then there is a greater chance that the problem will be reported. However, if the nurse feels under-valued and works in an organisation where managers have no interest in hearing of, or trying to resolve problems, the nurse is unlikely to report the problem and will instead continue to work around the issue.

The workaround culture: the unintended consequences of organisation heroes, was published on Nov 5.

IT- information technology - is becoming increasingly critical for successful global operations, with innovation being the watchword. But according to new research by academics, published in the MIT Sloan Management Review, chief information officers can no longer rely on tried and test managerial tools to deliver innovative results.

The key to success say the writers is to have networks of informal collaboration which can often produce solutions “through informal and unplanned interactions”. This is due say the writers to the fact that individuals will look at the same problem with different perspectives.

Moreover, such collaborations often do not slot easily into an organisation’s established processes and structures and so may be less visible to senior managers.

By analysing these networks and discovering how individual employees and teams connect, as well as designing information networks to make the most of the flow of good ideas, managers can create global IT organisations “that are more efficient and innovative than organisations that rely primarily on formal mechanisms,” say the writers.

The paper “The collaborative organisation, how to make employee networks really work” was written by Rob Cross, associate professor of management at the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce, Peter Gray, an associate professor of commerce at the McIntire School, Shirley Cunningham, chief information officer at Monsanto, Mark Showers, chief information officer at Reinsurance Group of America and Robert Thomas, executive director at Accenture’s Institute for High Performance.

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