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

What do these have in common? Designing organizations, aquariums and fish soup.

Commenting on the communist legacy, a soviet academic Oleg Bogomolov [1], who must have known a thing or two about things that swim, said ‘It is easy to turn an aquarium into fish soup, but how do you turn fish soup back into an aquarium?’.

Mmm, don’t know how you turn a fish soup into an aquarium, but I have known many organization-aquariums being converted into fish soup. Instead of relocating fishes and getting a smaller fish tank, they decided, by the hand of Big Consulting, to go for the soup. It was faster and there were cookbooks. Expensive, but there we are.

The Organizational Fish Soup has the following characteristics:

  • There is no slack in the system, resources are exactly what is required to accomplish some tasks.
  • People in the wrong place at the wrong time were fired, no matter how skilful they may have been to work somewhere else.
  • Middle management is gone because they were the cause of all plagues.
  • The ones who were not fired were offered a redundancy package that they could not be refused. The fish tank lost key talent and a great deal of company memory, but the soup tasted delicious to ‘the shareholders’.
  • The fish soup was portrayed as ’being closer to the customers’ but no customer ever wanted that closeness. They were told all was done to meet their expectations, but no one recalls being asked about them.
  • The transformers saw the problem moons before but did nothing and were waiting for a miracle. When the miracle did not materialise, they bought another fish tank, and then a very big fish tank, and they put all the fishes together. For a little while. The new fish tank changed logos and letterheads.
  • No C-transformer was ever fired for the mess, no Big Consulting was ever blamed for the lack of critical thinking.
  • Today, the soup, is in survival mode, at the best doing OK.
  • Some people in the fish soup (I mean fish) want to recreate a fish tank, a new, better, slimmer and Googolesque aquarium. But nobody knows how to do it. Chances are they will call the same consultants that created the soup to now recreate the fish tank. Sure, why not?

Call me pessimistic but…


THIS THURSDAY join our webinar on organizational design…post-Covid.

A Better Way to…design your organizational structures to create a remarkable organization for the future.

The new Promised Land of the so-called ‘future of work’

We know that the new organization has to be very adaptable and flexible, beyond what it has been in the past, but what are the organizational   principles that can lead to that? Is there a singular best model? Or, more importantly, can several possibly competing models coexist in one single organization? And, if so, what kind of management and leadership are to be reinvented?

27th May, 1730 BST/1830 CET



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