- Leandro Herrero - https://leandroherrero.com -

Organizational Decluttering: A crusade in waiting that may need you as leader


Einstein said, “I soon learned to scent out what was able to lead to fundamentals and to turn aside from everything else, from the multitude of things that clutter up the mind.”

Many corporate initiatives compete for airtime in the employees’ hearts and minds. Unnecessary organisational complexity and its associated terminology is a significant feature of modern corporate life. You don’t need re-engineering, but simple, ruthless and urgent un-cluttering. Clean up, do less.

The organisational life is cluttered. There are calendars full of activities and meetings fill the day. The internal cycles (strategic plan, business plan, next year’s budget) sometimes seem to have a life of their own. People exclaim, “I am doing the planning, the budget, the presentations… When am I going to do my actual job?”

People also need to attend training courses, professional development programmes, maybe even a leadership initiative or a work-life balance programme. And perhaps they also need to be part of a Task Force addressing the latest not-so-good results from an Employee Satisfaction survey.

And this is just daily life; just an average random Wednesday in the life of the company. On top of all this, ‘higher level’ corporate frameworks do exist: there is a set of values, a set of leadership behaviours, a credo, etc. Operationally, the CEO has set the six key objectives for the year and everybody is re-drafting their goals and objectives to fit in with those. Many companies seem to be run on the basis that 90% of the focus is on managing internally/inwards and only 10% on the customer side/outwards.

All those initiatives create a corporate ‘mille-feuille’ with layers that don’t usually talk to each other. Sometimes their only commonality is the fact they all compete for air time. Confronted with this often overwhelming richness of corporate life, the average employee throws in the towel and switches off, unwilling to put some effort in trying to understand the connection between all the different things.

When I look through my client portfolio of the last five years, I could say that the average client has at least five or six major competing initiatives running ‘in parallel’, cluttering the airtime (not to mention an additional dozen or so minor, local or functional ones).

Decluttering is a truly disruptive ‘anti-initiative’ initiative that shouts “Time out!” and forces you to review what’s going on and to make sense of it all.

Decluttering can be done now. If you are in a senior management position, you could declare yourself to be the Chief Decluttering Officer and you would do your organisation a big favour. It doesn’t cost much and the sky won’t fall down. Sure, you might upset some people with a vested interest in the cluttering, but that’s a small price to pay.

This contrarian do-less will pay off.

If this could be copied by others and if each department or group had an decluttering objective in their goals, the business transformation would be truly significant.


(from Disruptive Ideas [1])