We’ve all seen it. Some junior executive falls in love with a particular bit of data. Statistics are calculated. Reports are generated. Mass distraction ensues as the rare commodities of time and attention are expended to “move the needle” on the object of the exec’s affection. If we’re lucky there is little net impact to the experience of customers, employees, and other partners. Often there are missed opportunities for other, greater impacts. In the worst cases, the organization becomes so fixated on that innocent data point that they loose focus on serving customers, engaging employees, or maintaining necessary partnerships. Continue reading
For all the lovely chatter about people being an organization’s greatest assets, the trajectory of large organizations is determined by the quality of their alignment. Anything else requires a level of unsustainable heroics from those greatest assets. Small organizations only survive the inflection points on their way to being large organizations if they figure out how to maintain the alignment that comes more easily in small numbers.
And so process and discipline are born into our cooperative efforts. All too often, these two grow into ungainly beasts that are as likely to eat an organization as sustain it. That path is too easy to walk down and probably why the vast majority of small organizations don’t survive their first five years.
One can’t inhabit the halls of any large organization too long before encountering that project. You know the one. Strategic. Cross Functional. Visible. Really Really Important. Really really horrible, complete with turf wars, In-fighting, and finger pointing. Then somebody decides all the problems map back to roles and responsibilities. The corporate tribal drums begin to beat, the more impressionable break into ritual dance, and various escalations are invoked until an industrial-sized RACI chart emerges as pages and pages of 8pt Excel spreadsheets. Things do get better, at least a little bit, and the project proceeds with all the real transparency, deep engagement with realities on the ground, and pure joy of a 70’s era Soviet Politburo meeting. Continue reading