In the previous Daily Thoughts I suggested:
- Readiness is a red herring and usually an alibi for not starting something
- Preparedness, a la military, is different. It’s a broader state of ability to react and change at any prompt
- Preparedness means change ability. And change ability is precious.
If we want to master change-ability, we need at the very least:
(1) Organizational designs that are as flexible and as re-configurable as possible without each time of change triggering an internal earthquake,
(2) An ‘operating system’ that deals with any ‘software application’ (I don’t mean IT software but initiatives, changes, culture shape strategy modifications etc) because it has all the ingredients for almost any cooking, plus a kitchen, and
(3) A collective leadership system that does not rely on top-down management and redefines ( does not eliminate) hierarchies.
Then, that kind of organization is a very good place as fit for the future, even if that future cannot be 100% predictable.
This is perhaps a Liquid Organization, to borrow Zygmunt Bauman’s term “liquid modernity”, which described a way of life in which “change is so rapid that no social institutions have time to solidify.”. What Bauman saw in macro-societal terms we see every day in micro-social- organizational ones.
I used to have clients who periodically complained to me that they needed a period of stability after so many drastic changes. ‘Give us a break’, literally, they seemed to say to their leaders and their Neutrino Transformations led by Big Consulting. Anybody who, from recent years to today, was part of one of those drastic corporate resizing and downsizing that, several severance packages later, left lots of empty floors, would have been aware that ‘stability’ was precisely not the sense left either in the air or in the Big Consulting PowerPoints. It was more of a ‘what is next’.
Those classic Salami Interventions hardly left the organization more able for the next challenge. They were largely more vulnerable and insecure, not agile and nimble. They were organizations on a combination of drastic diet and cosmetic Botox redesigns, barely resigned to celebrate survival, and looking terrible in the mirror like a plastic surgery gone wrong.
They did not create a Liquid Organization. It was not solid either, Yoghurt maybe.
- Their new designs were the same big ones but in small, not new, smart re-configurable, agile, but post-operative dysfunctional.
- Their operating system was not changed. It was still the same mainly top-down apparatus but with less bodies
- Leadership was not touched. Names changed, systems stayed.
Back to those Liquid Organizations. What is at the core of their Power and Glory, yet their Achilles as well?
I’ll come back finally.