Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Criteria for Success?

Recently a psychologist gave an interview about his book which disparaged the 12-step recovery programs designed to help people kick addictions. His main point was that since the programs have a 90-95% recidivism rate that they are ineffective. He pointed out that people have to go through rehab several times before it works. He suggested they be changed, improved and at minimum, stop marketing themselves as more effective than they are for all people. The programs might work for a minority of people, but most others should try other methods to kick addictive habits. He was touting his own program which seemed to be more successful.

By his criterion, most of the medical and psychological profession is a failure. 90% of heart disease patients don't change their lifestyles; they're recidivists. Even Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has varying success rates for different conditions and, according to people who have participated in it for different conditions, report that they have to go through several blocks of sessions. Sounds a lot like 12-step programs.

One thing going for this psychologist and the medical profession: they keep testing, studying, investigating better and better methods. Thus, his last complaint against 12-step programs is that they haven't really changed much since they were developed 80 years ago. Well, I can't say much about that. CBT has been around since Freud though. Most of the testing about CBT is to test its efficacy against other methods such as pharmaceuticals, different ...ectomies, etc.

We have all faced trying to change a bad habit, and we have all failed to some extent, just ask any of our spouses. We all fail until we find the right moment and the right method to create a change. Then whatever method we've used is a success. It might be the method or it might be an accumulation of methods (the 1000th time our spouse has told us to do something...?!). Our organizations might have tried Total Quality Management, Just-in-Time, Lean, Six Sigma, Theory of Constraints, Quick Response Manufacturing...and any other organizational change method (that also have failure rates of 65-85%) and it's often not until we start concept XYZ and everything falls in place that we find operational and strategic success. Does that mean all the other methods have been failures? Or does it mean that we've created enough of a critical mass in organizational dynamics to turn the corner and no matter what the "new" method is, it's going to be a success?

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