Since time immemorial, people have sought to reflect on the mysteries of things and go beyond what is visible. In our present era, this desire of course included the organizations which are engaged in the search for the root causes of problems, or the real motives for the challenges facing the work.

The invention of X-ray has had a clear effect on the development of multiple technical and scientific fields, due to its ability to penetrate a wide range of tissues, allowing detecting what is under the material and making it known. If the organization get and use this concept correctly, it can control the real secrets of the defect, enabling it to take very efficient and effective actions. The question here is, how can organizations benefit from the principle of X-ray on development? To provide an adequate answer, we will present the most important uses of X-rays and apply them in the organizations to see what can be done.

Diagnosis of diseases and injuries

The common use of X-ray is to diagnose bone fractures and osteoporosis in preparation for the appropriate treatment. There is no doubt that organizations need to recognize the real causes of the challenges they suffer and the problems they encounter. In this respect, it is not helpful to accept the direct superficial causes, but it is necessary to analyze deeply to reach the underlying causes that hinder the organization. To achieve that, a number of methodologies can be applied, such as “5 Ways Analysis which was developed by the management thinker Sakichi Toyoda, and applied at “Toyota” company during the famous Renaissance which led it in manufacturing methodologies. This analysis is one of the simple and easy tools which are used to reach the main cause of the problem. This analysis starts with asking a question about the current problem, including “Why?” Then, the question “Why?” is repeated five times. In each answer, a deeper reason is reached until we end up reaching the root of the problem, and then, it is treated.

The use of X-ray in medicine does not stop at that. But it is also used to detect the tumors in specific cases and to help eliminate them as these rays have a strong effect on tumor cells, while healthy cells can recover after exposure to lower concentrations. This leads us to the need for the organization to discover the useless business units and get rid of them. There are many reasons that lead to the formation of extra work units in the organizations such as the inaction in reviewing the organizational structure, leading to inflation, or lack of careful consideration when developing a new business unit. The urgency of taking such decisions leads to omit their impact on the rest of the business units, resulting in power interference or marginalizing other administrations. Therefore, the management of the organization should pay attention to the periodic review of its organizational structure, especially after conducting reviews or developing new strategic plans to ensure the disposal of excesses. In the UAE for the sake of development and modernization, one of the banks established a quality and excellence section in each of its branches in order to apply the quality standards and the organizational excellence models in a way that leads to the distinction of its services and increasing its profitability. After a period of time, the Bank’s management noticed a significant variation in branches expenses. After extensive research, it turns out that the reason is due to the different orientations of the quality and excellence departments. As there were different work plans for each department, which were adopted in coordination with its branch management, resulting in remarkably higher expenses and lower efficiency. Therefore, the senior management of the bank was forced to amend the organizational structure by cancelling all these sections and establishing a central management for quality and excellence, with the presence of coordinators in all branches, working to carry out the plans and decisions approved. The bank could detect and remove the unwanted groupings in its organizational structure.

Security detection of bag contents

X-ray is used in the country ports and some vital facilities to screen bags and containers, and to detect any inappropriate contents which are not allowed in. The organization can also determine the eligibility of candidates for employment and the extent of their entitlement to join the organization through the use of means that detect more than they show in employment interviews or on their CVs, such as their way of thinking and their personal traits. Thus, they compare them and choose the best. There are several ways to accomplish this, including “Psychoanalysis” (Psychometric), which consists of several questions divided into groups; each of them creates a perception of the person being tested on a selected area such as the intellectual abilities, the computational capabilities, and other special abilities. Mark Parkinson confirms, in his book, “How to Master Psychometric Tests,” that this type of testing has become essential in employment choices, as 50% and more candidates fail to pass it. If the suitable questions are used, the psychometric tests can provide us an objective assessment characterized by fairness and accuracy.

Identify invisible defects in products

It is one of the common methods in the use of X-ray to detect any internal cracks or faults in the products. This method helps to control the quality and is also inexpensive as it protects the sensitive products through not touching during the checking. Organizations can draw inspiration from this practice to detect the internal faults in work teams and departments, as the problems of communication and harmony between the work team members directly affect the team’s productivity and weaken its ability to perform its tasks assigned to it. There is a set of administrative tools achieve this purpose, such as a model of forming work teams “Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development“, which can be used to build a cohesive team able to carry out its tasks successfully. This model shows the stages of team development over time in five stages: forming stage, storming stage, norming stage, performing stage, and finally the adjourning stage. It also illustrates the critical points that should be taken care of during forming the team. Identifying these stages allows the managers and team leaders to help the members move from one stage to another one, as well as avoid unintended actions that hold up the team’s development. In addition to the possibility of using this tool as a probe to detect the team status if it has problems related to homogeneity or communication.

Identifying the original artwork

Paintings are exposed to X-ray to know their age and the time period when they were painted. The radiation absorption of materials used in making colors varies with the passage of time. This happens in proportions on the old paintings different from the paintings newly painted. Through that, the age of the painting can be determined and thus determining whether they are original or counterfeit. It is vital for any organization to be fully aware of what they offer from its products, either services or goods, and the extent of its uniqueness and distinctiveness from others. Sustainable success cannot be achieved through imitation, because the imitative organization cannot be creative when innovation is required on its business. Accordingly, the organization must make an effort to provide original achievements. In the case of importing the best practices, they must be adapted to suit the new work environment and perhaps they are developed to become more effective. Oded Shenkar, a professor of management at Ohio State University, in his book “How Smart Companies Use Imitation to Gain a Strategic Edge, shows that many companies that imitate other creative companies fail because they do not have their own strategic plans.

Finally, management is not considered inflexible and stereotypical activities, determined by theories, but it is renewable and adaptive, constantly inspired from the surrounding environment continuously. If we simulate x-ray work in management, the field is still open for inspiration on a larger scale that expands as far as the depth of imagination and accuracy of observation.

* I wrote and published this article in Harvard Business Review Arabic.