Sir Isaac Newton opened our eyes to a universe of order, regularity and predictability which led to the onset of discoveries that included the age of machines.
The then New Science and machines enabled us to reduce everything to smaller parts that we could “Fit” things together and make them “Work”. So we designed , structured and organised our work by “functional parts” then we ” separated these functions with the “disciplines” of knowledge to control and direct our performance.
For almost 300 years we have structured increasingly elaborate organisational machines (groups, holdings, mergers etc) constructing defined boundaries around which we could build the strong walls of identity. We constantly move our organisational pieces around (restructure) to respond to the environment as we collect and gather vast amounts of growing data. We try to consider and assess the meaning of the bigger picture through a multiplicity of complex variables , predicting scenarios against which we can then apply more sophisticated ratios to understand the cause and effects. In this way we can plan to overcome “barriers” and remain “agile”.
There is only one variable however that consistently refuses to play ball (sphere?!) in this newton world – people.
More specifically Customers, Stakeholders and Staff – their associated behaviours, skills, knowledge, communications and relationships do not fit this mould. So even more techniques and technology is required to “drive motivation” (MBO,performance Appraisals); “force” them to align (Crm, Resource Planning,scheduling,Performance Improvement Plans).
Whilst business may reside in the objectivity and measurability of the newtonian world, people seem to belong more to the quantum realm. The emphasis on diversity, “think global , act local” are more quantum perceptions of reality.
Our daily activities weave threads of inter-connectedness everywhere at every moment swimming across systems within our organisations leaving a profound impact on unconnected parts (environment, brand, reputation, production, sales), previously unseen (word of mouth) is now highly visible (social media) leading to large system change (transformation). We now readily talk of
Perception is Reality.
The Power to influence and change now rests in the finger tips on smartphones, tablets and numerous electronic devices.
Is there a sense of irony that the fragmentation (reducing everything to its smallest parts) is now the radical emerging commercial reality of facebook, twitter, viadeo etc. driven further by forces of consumption economics? As social media begins its reign does it prompt organisations to consider their own systems and inter-connectedness?
Does the new technology that can accommodate structured and unstructured data (but needs data scientists to identify and interpret the unseen patterns – fractals) hidden within the labyrinth of structures, data warehouses and knowledge repositories increase our teams ability to respond in this changing world or does it provide managed information to the top of the organisation which then has to trickle all the way down? Where talent and potential needs to be sourced and nurtured, innovation harnessed and magic desired – how do you prevent the structured order from destroying the creativity?
People are our greatest asset
– So is their value shown on the balance sheet or are they still just an expense to the bottom line? What other options do you have if this Newtonian approach is holding your business back?