The electricity was working just fine and no one knew there was an issue – until the homeowner went to install a new ceiling fan. That action, which should be a simple one, involved opening up an electrical box and finding a quagmire. The wires were every which way and even an electrician couldn’t easily make sense of it.
Staring at the tangle of wires, it was difficult to assess what had been done in the past – thereby making it challenging to know how to move forward in the future.
While the specifics revolve around electricity and a fan, I think the general principle applies to many situations in an organization. No one notices that the accounting practices are shady – until there is an audit. Leaders don’t sense that morale is declining – until the mass exodus begins. Organizations let their policies entropy – until there is a harassment claim or lawsuit.
It’s nice when the infrastructure is humming along without intervention but make it part of your routine to keep current with the equivalent of your electrical wiring. Don’t wait until it hits the proverbial fan to peek inside the box.