The RUGS Model

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Photo Credit:  Pearlie Ng at

The RUGS Model

In a logical, well ordered organisation where everyone has the information they need and they are working to the same objectives, business process tangles won’t happen. When studying Managing in Organisations with the Open University over 20 years ago, I was introduced to the RUGS Model. This is the belief that organisations are Rational, Unified Goal Seeking.

However, the reality is that many organisations are not like this, especially those organisations that are too big to fail or not accountable to their customers. In these organisations irrational behaviour takes place to justify the aims of individuals (especially internal politics). Then, people are not aligned so that they are all working to achieve a common objective.

In a start-up where people come together to work to achieve a shared common goal, RUGS will typically apply. But when growth introduces confusion, bureaucracy and hiding places for the lazy, dishonest and incompetent, then RUGS gets turned on its head. The resulting business process tangles can then become institutionalised as ‘how we work.

The RUGS model helped my to understand the company I was working for then (which was closed down by the USA parent company soon after). Applying logic is not always a good way to an understand an organisation!