It’s time to jettison our organizational baggage!

There are few rules and many uncertainties about the journey ahead of us. Let’s go exploring!

Talking about the journeys we are now on, both from personal and organizational viewpoints, has become the water-cooler topic of choice. I’ve spoken with plenty of people who comment that none of us know what tomorrow will bring so let’s make the most of today. The global pandemic has certainly illustrated how easily our sense of control can be taken away from us. I’m of the viewpoint that we should remain optimistic, if realistic, and work on the assumption the world will survive. Sitting and waiting for the sky to fall on our heads just isn’t an option. We must make what is right in front of us, better.

I’ve noticed recently that direct selling of what we have, and how we see the world isn’t working that well. This may be because people are anxious and have too much cluttering up their heads. But it also may be that it’s just the wrong conversation for the times we are in. By contrast, I’ve noticed how keen management teams are to talk about the next steps on their journey. If they open-up and talk it’ll invariably come back to the fact they’re on a journey, although they may not be sure what the starting point is, where it’s taking them and how to frame-up the future. Sorting all that out makes for a very rich conversation. It also illustrates the need to immediately put aside some of the tired old baggage of the past.

Soon we’ll be mature enough! Really…

‘We’re not mature enough as an organization’ often creeps into the initial discussions, and this statement immediately constrains the way teams think about what’s possible. Even worse, it paints a picture of organizational complexity based on past ways of working rather than being adventurous. Neils Pflaeging provides a very elegant way to position supposed immaturity, especially in a post-Covid world that is opening-up our organizations to all our people in ways never before possible.

“All humans have the ability to develop.
At any time, in any direction.
All organizations have the ability to develop.
At any time, in any direction.
Which is why talk of ‘readiness’ and ‘maturity models’ is inhuman. And utterly bogus.”
Neils Pflaeging

Let’s just tweak the current models…NOT

During lock-down new businesses were launched, old businesses recast themselves, and we all started thinking about different ways of conceiving of the world. Many innovators and entrepreneurs have tried over many years to build value in their communities and have struggled to make any progress in opaque political environments where allocation of funding is unequal and haphazed. Regional and local development of jobs and products is so critical to growth outside of major urban centres it seems obvious we can no longer leave the decision-making in the hands of bureaucrats and politicians. There are certainly examples of local initiatives emerging funded on the smell of an oily rag, or entirely supported by the goodwill of community advocates. Imagine how far these could travel with a bit of the funding that seems to be siphoned off to pay for admin and management personnel working at a central location rather than out in the field. So let’s not just tweak the existing models. Let’s start listening to all those people, in communities and local businesses, that have earned the right to be heard, and stop forcing them to compete against bureaucrats, because it’s just too hard to collaborate. It’s now about collective effort.

Why do we exist as organizations? Because we always have…

Having a sense of purpose is very much in our minds now as recent events how brought home how valuable the time of all our people is, irrespective of where and how they work. People need a sense of purpose. They need to know they’re making a difference in a world that needs every advantage we can find. Senior management teams have a major role to play here. It’s often difficult to map existing strategic frameworks to a future that demands an agile-state-of-mind and the ability to pivot. There are often too many strategies, with poor alignment to delivery, and divorced from the reality of the business as seen every day by those at the edge of the business. This is definitely an area for simplification. Boards and Executive teams need to preach less and talk more. They need a long term vision and sense of purpose that their people buy into. This needs to be supported by short-term initiatives able to be delivered within 6 – 12 months thus allowing the longer-term roadmap to be continually tuned. John Hagel (Deloitte from the Edge) and others talk about Zooming in and Zooming out . Bottom line, teams need to understand why they exist as an organization, and what the world might lose if they no longer existed. It’s that important to get this right.

Bottom line, teams need to understand why they exist as an organization, and what the world might lose if they no longer existed. It’s that important to get this right.

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