Better Business Performance – Car or Driver?

Chris Farrance

Chris Farrance

21 November 2014

In my  recent tweets I’ve drawn heavily on a thoughtful and provoking blog by Gary Hamel on the ills of organisational architecture – the CAR – and the prevailing ideology of the leaders that are responsible for performance – the DRIVER. It’s instructive because many articles discuss organisational structures or leadership as though they were in separate vacuums but if course they are intimately inter-related.

In case you missed them, here are some of the Tweets:

  • Incumbents are seldom the authors of game-changing innovation.
  • Large organizations are emotionally sterile.
  • So what’s the ideology of bureaucrats? Controlism.
  • In a hyperkinetic environment command and control it is a profound liability.
  • Irregular people with irregular ideas create the irregular business model.

Like many metaphors mine isn’t an exact fit and falls in to one of the traps that the article discusses – it stimulates existing biases, thinking paradigms and ways of doing things which we all have and fail to address in a sufficiently open way in times of rapid and discontinuous change.

Yes, we know that ‘command and control’ is not the way to run a business today but it’s a bit like Japanese knotweed – once established it’s difficult to remove – underpinned as it by process, bureaucracies and other re-inforcing mechanisms. It’s certainly easier if you’re just a start up business but the challenge is that it’s still the prevailing model as businesses grow.

Ideology, from my perspective, is to do with mindsets and the shift from ‘knowledge is power’ where I am expected to know all the answers and behave as though I do to a more open and engaging and participative culture. There’s a need to recognise the performance enhancements that can come from engaging and recruiting both inside and outside the organisation.

A similar theme runs through a book that was recommended to me –  The Management Shift.

This interaction between the car and the driver is not helped by the fact that the business environment has moved from the equivalent of the ‘horse and buggy’ to Formula 1 – but without the benefits of a pre-defined race track! No point complaining though, as Myles Downey a proponent of ‘The Inner Game of Tennis’ memorably said to me ‘just hit the b***** ball!.

Go Well!

Chris Farrance