Building motion, not hierarchies

There are various ways of forming an organization. And there are various ways of organizing a formation. The way we organize will have effect on the way we work. For ever. We should put more emphasis and energy into building motion, not hierarchies.

I believe in blazing new trails, not only finding paths travelled by others. This is not a contradiction to my point that it helps to look in other boxes rather than outside the box. We need to do both.

Dariush-quote-03 (other boxes)While looking at what others have done in wildly different industries can enable free thinking and innovation of new aspects of the delivery model, finding our own ways can dramatically change our chances to actually get things done as well as turning the rules of competing up-side down. Let others inspire you to the “what”, and change the “how”- so to speak.

Doing both; studying and finding inspiration in what others do and radically changing the game plan of how we do things need to be balanced in terms of resource allocation and risk. Here is were lean comes in. Finding the resources and controlling risk can be done through agility, not through hierarchies.

We need not re-organization, we need to de-organize

During the Innovation In Action 2013 symposium I concluded in my final presentation that we needed to find completely new ways of working. Going to the de’s rather than re’s; de-organize rather than re-organize, de-struct rather than re-struct. Finding new forms of organizational structures is core to succeeding with this ambidexterity. That is; Agile organization forms. Rather than building hierarchies for delegation of work and responsibilities, mostly achieving complexity and report driven activities, we should focus on building motion so that tasks can responsibly be taken and achievements made the main focus. I also touch on this in my post on avoiding Taylorian systems.

Or as Professor John Kotter puts it in the article found in The Huffington Post “Rules and procedures that inevitably accompany hierarchies almost never change fast even if they are now irrelevant, overly burdensome, and the like.”

We want success at the right level of risk. Success is not always immediately measured in ROI (return on investment), it could rather be discussed as strategic- and financially direct or indirect results. And of course, the value derived from these.

Risk can be taken into account in many aspects here. Cost, time, timing and likelihood comes into direct play. Complexity to market, competitive advantages follow direct after. Preceding these are by all means competence and resources. And let us not forget luck!

Train for luck

“..the more I train, the luckier I am”, Swedish slalom hero Ingemar Stenmark is claimed to have said. Now, Stenmark was not only wise he was also more diligent in his work to achieve outstanding results. He gained balance, strength and a never ending focus on achievements. I take this into account as I contemplate organizational structures. stenmark_430One aspect is that the lighter the team structure, the faster we can act, the sooner we can decide on new routes. So, another effect with agile and light team organizations is that cost of failure tends to decrease. Another important aspect is that the more teams gain experience, the better they can parry unexpected events. So, with speed, ability to parry and a bit of strong legs, agile teams can manage their way through slippery and icy slopes. When we find ways to delegate responsibility to teams, ask for achievements not reports, we’ll see accomplishments improve as well. Look at the start-up structures. They can’t afford big failures, they can’t afford management structures, they can’t afford inefficient structures. Their natural organization around this is the agile team structure. We can use this in our large organizations as well. It will bring creativity to value creation. Innovation will be reached.

Innovate or Innowait?

In 2003, former Googolian Mattias Rydberg coined the expression; “Are you innovating or innowaiting?” G_Posters-05We know that risk aversion will lead to organizations eventually lacking the ability to take daring initiatives. The cost of this, eventually, is likely be the full value of your operation, whilst the comparably small cost of innovations going south, could even be transformed into valuable learnings.

So my opinion is that the cost of failing to innovate is larger than the sum of the cost of failed projects. In organizations were failure is not treated as a result, rather as a scenario that didn’t work; failures tend to be a turning point. Perseverance in the process and an ability to trust the process, will be a key success factor. Try new routes, find new ways. Entrepreneurial spirit in its essence.

Blaze on

To blaze on, there are a eleven conclusions from this text. A few of many out there.

  1. Form light team structures, not hierarchies
  2. Fight to decrease cost of failure, not to avoid failure
  3. Gain team experience to parry unexpected events
  4. Delegate responsibilities to the teams
  5. Ask for achievements not reports
  6. Look at the start-up structures and build like them
  7. Do not let risk aversion lead to inability to taking daring initiatives
  8. Trust the process
  9. Train
  10. De-organize. Not re-organize

One comment

  • Best ever book on management is by Gary Hamel: Future of management. Especially the chapter on Gore (remember GoreTex?).

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