If you examine in which organisations particularly frequent so-called fire-fighting is to be observed, then you will find a direct correlation to the volume of planning. Fire-fighting means, that the organisation is constantly confronted with, what is for them, surprising, urgent and important problem situations, which were not included in their planning and reporting, and which then have to be adapted with action teams in emergency mode.
When planning is the chief method for directing an organisation, but the environment is changing in a highly dynamic way, inevitably, an uncoordinated and action-based fire-fighting culture emerges. Early indications that the plan must be altered are ignored. Since the focus is on the plan, you overlook what does not fit the plan. Above all, many communicative adjustments to fit the expectation of the hierarchy take place, so that all is running as planned. The hierarchies are presented with the illusion that everything is running according to the plan, so long as the hope exists that things can still, somehow, be managed. Then, shortly before the deadline, the process has to be rescued.
This fire-fighting has, apart from the usually high costs, the great disadvantage that it does not make the organisation ‘better’. The results of the action don’t sink into the organisational memory. The rescue team immediately proceeds to the next fire. You are happy to have succeeded, just about, but as a rule you do not examine why, because this would raise a question about the fundamental processes. Everybody knows and expects that next time you will also be too late and developments will be overlooked. Thus, little trust is developed and a bias towards a successful and connecting future.