Following a presentation at a recent business conference, an attendee made a skeptical remark to me. "Last year I heard another large company's similar success-story testimonial, but a few weeks later that company announced poor financial results and was laying off employees," he commented. "Do these so-called improvement methods really work?" Indeed, it is difficult to explain contradictions such as these, where organizations praise themselves for doing good things but then do not produce positive results.

As I did not have a good reply for the man, I simply shrugged my shoulders, as if to say, "life is a mystery." Since then, I have pondered what may explain the paradox of how organizations can implement good business practices and still experience poor results.

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