Max Dumais

Look beyond the past to see how to do things better.

Thinking skill – cut to the chase

Rome is not just one city. It is a number of cities built one upon the other. Today’s PC operating systems contain generations of code all layered upon each other.

More often than not, many organisations consist of patterns of behaviour built upon patterns of behaviour. Each CEO has usually brought with them a style, an emphasis — and a rewards and sanctions system — and as they go they always manage to leave some form of residue.

Cable and Wireless was a very different organisational culture to the open, interactive and highly charged and energetic style that Bob Mansfield built up in the heady, start-up days of Optus. John Howard couldn’t be more different in values, aspirations or approach than his predecessor Paul Keating.

How long did it take to remove the stoker that found his place in the age of steam but was somewhat of an anachronism in the age of the modern diesel engine?

How long did it take for the Commonwealth Bank to boast that is was cutting through the forms? How many organisations still hold on to a regular, printed newsletter in the age of email and E-zines?

How long has it taken for the so-called paperless office to emerge from its own mythology to take on a reality of its own?

When will it be possible for doctors to use their computers to connect their patients with their system of health care? When will it be possible to pay your doctor’s bill as well as your pharmacy items in the one transaction with the prescription preceding you by email to the chemist’s counter and to a delivery service that has it waiting for you when you return home?

Most of this relies on standing far enough away from the process to see and comprehend the whole picture. It allows the opportunity to redesign processes that cut through the customs and trappings of yesteryear in ways that lead us into a more efficient tomorrow.

Tip of the week: Occam’s razor was not just a sharp idea. Try listing the systems and processes you have put in place and ask yourself these three questions:

If I cut this out, would it make a difference — and if it wouldn’t, then cut it out.

What was I thinking when I put this in place — and does it still apply, if not think again.

Is there a better way of getting the same result, then what is it?

Do this sort of thing on a regular basis together with your staff and clients and make sure you open yourself up to the richness of their input.


Thinkcoach Max Dumais set up and ran Dr Edward de Bono’s institute for its first six years. His company Ahead of the Game is all about applying processes and frameworks for individuals and companies to think their way to success.


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
SmartCompany Plus

Sign in

To connect a sign in method the email must match the one on your SmartCompany Plus account.
Or use your email
Forgot your password?

Want some assistance?

Contact us on: or call the hotline: +61 (03) 8623 9900.