High performing organizations defy description with organization charts. Even a “systems” view falls short as the dynamism of inputs and outputs and feedback loops makes fools of us all. We are faced with complex political, cultural and legal issues created by globalization, “Black Swans” that turn businesses upside down, and the requirement to foster a culture of continuous innovation while at the same time limiting serious mistakes. We must operate with functional centers of expertise distributed inside and outside traditional boundaries, form partnerships based mostly on trust, and operate more and more as transorganization systems. Exciting times for us all.
Our view is that organizations are outcome driven networks, very much like the neural network of a living organism. Perhaps in practice, however, they are Reality Shows set up with a pyramidal power structure managing functional, regional, product centers, with associates rewarded with money and positions according to ranking against peers, and success measured by growth and profitability, heavily weighted to the short-term. In moments of perfect alignment, it looks like a beautiful machine, but most of the time things can be pretty ugly.
Our approach to all this is operate from the belief that the essential DNA of an organization can be found in it’s complex teams. We see the multi-functional team, often at least partially virtual, is the core unit. Our focus is pragmatic -on building high performing teams and organizations by working on the work. That means relentless attention to engaging teams and their management in answering the questions – Where are we going, How are we going to get there, Who is going with me, and Does it matter enough for me to commit to team outcomes?
- Stephen Pile