The simplicity of life is full of lessons that can be extrapolated to all tiers of business management. Bateleur Business Consultants facilitates unlocking the the full potential of management transformation through precise training methodologies and strat sessions that unleash dynamic transformation for businesses of all scales.
Some simple paradigms that can be learnt from daily domestic scenarios are illustrated in the following urban fables:
- Receiving a new puppy : Social Media is like getting a new puppy for free . Analogy idea taken from - re Smith, N & Wollan R, Zhou C on The Social Media Handbook. " It doesn't cost anything to start, and looks like nothing but fun" - until it isn't. We got a Boerboel puppy, brilliant nature, and loving dog. Our kitchen lost a few edges, then before we knew it he was close to 60kg. Walking on the street was an experience as he had considerable strength. Not surprising, other pedestrians moved to the other pavement as we came (sometimes charging, along. Training was key to provide discipline and behavioral norms that taught both man and animal. But, what we didn't know is that inbreeding has created weak knees and we had to put him down after several operations. You would want to think about use of technology enables one way of communicating messages. We would assume that we can control these messages but as social media platforms are not one-way broadcasts, the ability to 'manage' the medium does not exist. Training could provide a basis for consistency of messages from an organization (an achievement in itself). Throwing a stick or ball for a puppy can be fun, and most bring it back, sometimes partially chewed. In the social media, nothing may happen or the response can be disproportionate to the intended message or question. It is unlikely to enable 'planable' coordinated responses to messages and even more so is likely to elicit comments that an organization hasn't requested and doesn't know what to do with. There are no 'known' norms and the platforms and ways of messaging morph in structure and form. New forms (in links e.g. bitly, circles in G+) or Structures (Flipboard) appear to make the messages easier to consume. But it will not stop there as there is no central orchestrator. Combining the strength of open platforms and immediate dissemination of data makes organization's, which in their nature are largely 'control & command' driven structures, react in different ways. Some dip their toes in and see what the reaction is, some jump into the water and are surprised that they get wet, although they believe they are swimming (charging along). The platforms (Twitter, Facebook et al) are just that, platforms. There is no immediate coherent response by organizations to ingenuity of people using the platforms in new ways. The 'new' ways of transporting, linking, extrapolating data create media phenomena that, owing to unpredictably of the users, are unlikely to respond consistently to any of the approaches. It is a bit like a puppy though, chasing your tail. Having said that, the platforms enable sourcing of data through following those you believe are peers, competitors or just interesting. Validation of what you read and hear remains crucial as an assumption that simply by being written it must be right (our natural problem with newspapers as well) does not make it a fact. Urban lores breed and people/ organizations quote each other (inbreed) - that in itself does not enable independent validation. How often do you hear our competitor is doing it and seems to be making hay, let's be a fast follower. You run a risk of building on mud, although seemingly stable, when the water comes running through it may be followed by a river or be just a trickle. BUT it is still fun -isn't it? I like to spell FUN as Free Universal Network, an open society as norm. We are part of it and can make the changes required. Opting out seems easier but certainly is not sustainable.
- Patience and Delegation : Walking in the garden, I came to our swimming pool which was looking very cloudy. On closer inspection I saw that the creepy crawly was stuck in a corner and not moving around as it should. I got distracted and didn't pull the crawly away from the corner. A day later, I got back to the pool with intent to move the creepy crawly away from the corner. I saw that the crawly had moved by itself and the pool had cleared up. Moral of the story: even if a team leader seems stuck in a corner, immediate interference may not help him to learn to extricate himself. Giving leaders time to resolve their issues would usually bring more sustainable solutions. Teaching leaders patience not to interfere to early is more difficult and dependent on experience.
- Organogram : We have a dish washer with three layers, the plates and pots in the bottom, cups, smaller items in the middle and cutlery in the top drawer. Unpacking the dishwasher has become a process of starting at the bottom to ensure the bulky items are out of the way. This has also been a process of learning as attempting to start with the top or second drawer, although easier to get to, usually spills water on the layers below. That extends the chore and increases the overall effort. Message from the story: the organization is not dissimilar to the dishwasher. There are many layers in organization's and depending on the issue at Hand it is important to start any change management attempt in the right place. You can spill at lot of 'water' on the lower layers by assuming you understand the problem and increase the time to a successful resolution. It is usually more sustainable to try understand the problem as close as possible to its source (if not by talking to the source). The organization brings with its layers many level of interpretation and filters distorting the actual situation. The latter is done in an attempt to control and make information manageable. Such attempt can lead to a greater 'effort' in the long term as 'leaders' can get removed from reality by such layers.
- Destination : Have you ever seen a bird crash? Why does nature rarely fail but man-made devices do? Imagine you are preparing to travel on a light aircraft to East London i.e. a clear goal. You would want three things to be in place - the diesel fuel, the plane in good condition and air under your wings. One may add a skilled pilot, the size of the aircraft to be sufficient for its load, distance to destination (and sometimes even back) and the type of aircraft for take-off and landing conditions. An organisation builds capabilities to support its objectives. An interesting and useful comparison could be factors that are part of such capabilities. Do you start with leadership (the captain- BTW you don't need 10 of these) or the diesel fuel (shareholders and funders) that support your agreed destination (East London and back) or with the structure (the latter normally follows). Thereafter, you want to ensure the amount of fuel is sufficient to support the load. Note, however, that the load is premised on the carrying capacity, conditions around you and not the other way around. It is easier for an aircraft to dispose of diesel than other parts of its load. Organisations tend to structure the other way around and dump parts of its load - and that is particularly painful for the organisation and the load alike. Frequently, in organisations the surrounding turbulence is ignored [often because it is too complex to understand], while in an aircraft that would be paramount to its survival and choice of route. Strategies based on an inside out view alone are not as sustainable as those that have a balanced inside-out and outside-in view of an organisation. The latter is heavily influenced by its customers, their needs and the environment - all of which organisations ignore at their peril. A further interesting observation is that aircraft are built for a specific lifetime. Organisation are built for a purpose and during their lifetimes it is the purpose that tends to mutate rather than the structure. That brings with it all challenges described above as inflexible or inappropriate structures can lead to failure in themselves. The air above the wings is potential but without the ability to keep air below the wings you don't need to worry about such. Keeping as close as possible to reality by focussing on drivers that you can control and ability to mitigate risks is key to success. Loosing focus will result in lost air even if the engine has the same amount of power. It seems self-evident that structuring to take advantage of opportunities without losing momentum is the solution. BUT do you see that happening or are new initiatives simply added to your daily workload? So, as your options increase, are your resources just as flexible? Probably not.
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