Back in 2015 I wrote this. In the context of some recent conversations, I went to review the validity of these statements. I have made a couple of modifications but, generally speaking, this world is one that has not changed.
10 ways to fool everybody as an organization expert: They guarantee some attention and all have been tried and tested, somewhere. These 10 positions provide organizational solutions with guarantee of some good reception. All of them are ‘possible’. If you want a case study, you’ll find it. Chose one or as many. You can’t go wrong. Well, not yet.
1. Top down is bad, but bottom up may be crazy. What about a more benign top down? OK, let’s have a bit of bottom up. Lets do more workshops South or the equatorial line in the organizational chart. (Reality: bottom up is not more workshops at the bottom of the organization)
2. Digitalise. Let’s just connect everybody with everybody. Yes we can. You can have videos as well. And an app. And hot desks. And working from home. Flexible! Work-life balance! Hurrah! And we can even write a book: ‘From P2P (peer to peer) to S2S (screen to screen)’ (reality: Hyper-connectivity is not hyper-collaboration)
3. Disrupt. Disrupt is good. Well, just a bit. (Reality: some times it feels like Disruptive is anything that we have no done yet. Right?)
4. Passion, passion. My kingdom for a bit of passion. If we are passionate, we will reinvent the enterprise. Just need to figure out a few hundred steps. (Reality: passion is overrated, hard work is the trick)
5. ‘The marketing of rebellion’ (of curse there is a book with this title, but not talking about this): rebels, mavericks, people who want change, disruptors, innovators. Give them a proper playground and something good will come up. (Reality: Yes, a magnificent waste of energy directed into low impact high noise activities, and a proliferation of useful idiots that conservative management can 6. exhibit as sign of forward thinking. Ok, that was harsh, my colleague says, sorry!)
6. Get rid of command and control. (Reality: Just stick to control. It’s shorter.)
7. It’s all networks, and actually there are so many pretty graphs. Not sure what to do, but the slides look great. (Realty: I’ve just seen a YouTube in which a management guru has revealed the death of the organization chart and the rise of networks which have two parts, the centre and the periphery. And it looked as if he had been highly paid for that corporate speech. Sorry, for clarification, yes, this was a 2015 YouTube)
8. Process and systems are the problem. Reengineer (well, let’s call it something else, there is a lit bit of baggage here). (Reality: Inject anything with the word agile, even if you don’t know much about it, other than the word. Yes, there are agile experts, but they are so complicated!)
9. It’s the house. Dismantle the Lego. Do another one, a dragon this time, with less pieces. (Reality: Mary, could you get me the McKinsey number?)
10. Let’s get rid of management, no titles, no supervisors. It’s cool. (Reality:We’ll have other people in charge though, but won’t call them managers.)
No, I am not really playing Dilbert. All those scenarios are real and I have encountered them in my organizational consulting life. The issue is that all those scenarios have some sort of ‘half truth within’. They may reflect, indeed, something that may be needed for a particular organization. My contention is with the ‘pret-a-porter’ management solution driven by the latest guru offer and based upon zero critical thinking.
If physics and engineering worked with the same rigour as ‘management solutions’, bridges will fall down, electric grids will have daily blackouts and airplanes would never take off.