Much earlier in my career, I had many conversations with a friend whom I’ll call “Fred” (I call him that because that’s his name) about problems in organizations and what to do about them. Those conversations often lasted well into the night. We didn’t solve world hunger, but we did solve many organizational problems. Even though our discussions took place almost 20 years ago, they are just as relevant to business today as they were then.

Fred had a name for things that didn’t work the way they were supposed to, and which forced people to find ways around the problem. He called them “swamps.” Swamps could be processes, computer systems, bottlenecks, policies or people. The common ingredient was that everyone had to find ways to navigate past them.

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