Let’s make a movie. We need a producer with the money. A director to direct. An agency to find the actors. Lighting people? Yes please. Outdoors or indoors? We need the guys in charge of location. Ah, we need studios as well. And the special effects crew. Don’t forget the editors. I am sure I must be missing a few tribes.
Who is really, really in charge? Surely the director. Nope. He directs. Ok, then the producer? Well, not really, he has the money and certainly a lot of influence, but is not directing. What about the Lighting and Casting and Location guys? Well, they’re not in charge, but nobody can do anything without them, so, they are sort of in charge. Ah, the Special Effects people! It’s a movie with lots of them, so they are in charge. Not really, they only care about big screens and keyboards. And anyway, they’re all under 25.
Ok then, lets ask a typical organizational question. Who reports to whom? ‘Sorry, don’t understand reporting, please explain’, the movie people would say. But, how does it work? Who calls the shots? ‘Well, it depends on the type of shots, the days we are shooting and a few other things’.
It sounds like chaos! Chaos? It’s been working this way for many decades now. At this point of discussion, reflection, irritation or puzzlement we could perhaps hear somebody saying: ‘Wait a minute, the movie is the movie; finally, there will be a movie on the screen and it will have a big name associated with it, that’s the director. It’s the director’s baby, so surely he’s in charge?’
Nope. The movie you see on the screen is not the director’s movie. Somebody called the editor has made the cuts and pastes and delivered the final movie, which excludes many things the director filmed. And, yes, the director can get very annoyed. That is why there are versions called ‘The Director’s Cut’, in other words, the unadulterated version. But, go and try to find one of these.
So here we are, several tribes get together for a while. They all know what to do, nobody is really, really in charge, they do their jobs and show up when needed, they disappear when finished, everybody gets paid. No committees, no task forces, no employee engagement surveys. Group, ungroup, have fun, and no org chart!
Before you think of the 27 reasons why ‘this will never work in your organization’, I suggest we pause. Maybe we are missing something here, when seeing things from the ‘traditional’ organization. Maybe we should all try to make some kind of organizational movie.