Although program’s like Six Sigma and LEAN take waste out of a process, my work is focussed on identifying and addressing the ballast in an organization. Ballast is difficult to recognize, certainly for those who have been working for a long time in the company. However the presence of ballast has a huge (negative) impact on staff members, teams and on the organization as a whole.
How is ballast created?
Actually, it’s a by-product of long-term (collaborative) work. If you are hard at work negative images about others can arise, conflicts remain unresolved, suspicion can grow, well thought through work practices can become lax and useful lessons can be forgotten or twisted.
The longer ballast remains, the more it hampers a well functioning person, team or organization and the pleasure, the flow and the productivity suffer. This is the way a company can slowly morph from being a close-knit organization of dedicated people to being like a nation of islands, where fear, compartmentalization and distrust rule the day.
In a time when organizations and individuals are very challenged to do more with less, ballast becomes an even greater threat. Fear of the future, disappointing results and high work pressure easily lead to even more ballast in the organization.
Where a consultant really can help
Recognizing, tackling and eventually letting go of ballast is a hard, sometimes painful process that can be extremely fruitful for those who have the courage to really engage with this issue.
There are a number of reasons why dealing with ballast demands an experienced external consultant; in the first place because it is difficult to recognize, both in yourself and in your work place. It is also a hard topic to broach and discuss, between colleagues without guidance, as it can quickly lead to a ‘game’ of attack and defence, and then to outright conflict. An attempt to turn the tide in a positive direction ends up as an extra chunk of ballast in the organization.