Inertia. What Kills Great Companies
Management guru and author, Gary Hamel has an interesting column in the Wall Street Journal. In most organisations, he writes, change comes in only two flavours: trivial and traumatic. Review the history of the average organisation and you’ll discover long periods of incremental fiddling punctuated by occasional bouts of frantic, crisis-driven change. He compares companies to religious organisations and sees a parallel in the way many leading religions have become less relevant. If organized religion has become less relevant, it’s not because churches have held fast to their creedal beliefs—it’s because they’ve held fast to their conventional structures, programs, roles and routines. The problem with organized religion isn’t religion, but organisation. To thrive in turbulent times, organisations must become a bit more disorganized—less buttoned down, less uptight, less compulsive, less anal. All of the things that allow little organisations to grow into big ones—scale, learning effects, and accumulated expertise—are products of repetition. When the environment changes, however, the returns to repetition start to diminish. Problem is, old habits die hard, particularly when they’ve been hardwired into a company’s management processes. Read more.