Peter Drucker put it in his own style:
‘No organization can depend on genius; the supply is always scarce and unreliable. It is the test of an organization to make ordinary human beings perform better than they seem capable of, to bring out whatever strength there is in its members, and to use each one’s strength to help all the others perform. The purpose of an organization is to enable common people to do uncommon things.’
The collective, the ‘social organism’, the organization, is a beautiful vehicle to gain the social advantage. If you follow this principle, organizations can be small and big, physical and virtual. And the keyword is ‘enabling’.
No big deal here? Sometimes I feel that we may be taking for granted the collective brain. If ‘the organization’ does not emphasize enough that ‘total that is bigger than the sum’ of the pieces, we will loose the essence. When we do that, then, ‘organization’ becomes ‘structure’.
When we talk about being organized in this or that manner, or needing a reorganization, the structural design (which reductionist version is who reports to whom, and an organization chart) takes over. And in this takeover (mentally, often unconscious) we loose sight of the social, multiplying purpose and function.
It is possible for common people to do uncommon things together, if they use the collective brain. But some organizations seem to be composed by hundreds of freelancers occasionally glued by some managers. Sometimes, one smells the individuality, the juxtaposition of people, the almost individual task (owner) sitting next to another one. And when you add digital, and people wear their headsets, you get an environment of pilots piloting in their cockpits.
I suppose a simple Drucker-ian test would be to asses if we really see the ‘uncommon things’ coming out from common people working together. Zero innovation and zero improvement dwell well in ‘the commons doing just common’, the managingb of the inevitable, the ‘work as task’.
And for that, the days are counted. A technological solution is already at the door.