At Quality Consultants we are in a never-ending search for the business characteristics that lead to success or failure in lean implementations. One such characteristic is “the maturity of the business.”* We have found that businesses that score high on maturity are normally successful, while those that score low almost always fail.

By maturity I do not mean chronological age. Rather, does it act in a manner we would hope would be typical of our image of mature adults?

An immature company is an interesting concept. It might even sound disrespectful to speak of an immature company. But before you get too judgmental, let’s examine how I define maturity.

Immaturity Defined

As a parent, dealing with immaturity is part of the package. I have a teenage son and after raising three others, it is a little easier this time as I deal with his level of maturity. I know what to expect and that helps immensely.

In some circumstances he acts like a mature 30 year old and amazes me with his observations, insights and behaviors. He can be more “adult” than the adults he is around. On other occasions he has the maturity of a 6 year old. In addition, he can exhibit almost any level of maturity between these two extremes, and does.  

When it comes to maturity level, I know what to expect from my teenage son…and that is almost anything.

When he is in “6-year-old” mode, he lives in a black-and-white world where he either hates things or he loves things. For example, we might talk about welfare reform, and he might say, “If they don’t appreciate it, just take it away.” Life is pretty simple in “6-year-old” mode.

While in “6-year-old” mode, he has no understanding as to how his school pants ended up on the bathroom floor; he swears he hung them up. “I’m positive Dad,” he says, with more black-and-white certainty.

While in “6-year-old” mode, he has time to watch TV, construct an entire village on Minecraft and text his friends, before he has done his homework. When you ask about his homework, he says, “No problem. I have just a little.” You then ask the follow-up question: “Exactly how much homework do you have?” The answer of “a two-page essay in English, reading 30 pages in religion and two sections of geometry” gives you the specifics you need. Recognizing this as more than “just a little,” you do your parenting work and adjust his priorities on what needs to be done first.