Imploding CRT photographed with high speed air-gap flash. c 2012 Niels Noordhoek (CC BY-SA 3.0) Via Wikimedia Commons

Why Flat Organization Implodes

E. Forrest Christian Organizations Leave a Comment

As Mark Nichols describes in “Flat Will Kill You, Eventually: Why Every Company Needs Structure“, flat seems like such a great idea when we start out. It works so well and things go so smoothly. Then everything slides downhill on a runaway shopping cart into hell of recrimination, anger and mistrust. What in the world just happened? Why did the …

(c) 2010 Ardfern (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Standard Process Kill Productivity Because Standardizing Destroys Local Knowledge

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Most executives that implement a PeopleSoft or SAP are surprised that productivity takes such a dive in the departments that these systems were supposed to automate. Departments that are dependent on the data see some productivity increase as information becomes more available, but many tasks that used to take a moment (or could, if you were pal-ly with the clerks) …

At rehearsal of Oliver Twist (Broadway, ca 1912). Bain News Service via Library of Congress.

Job Role (Social Role) Defines Your Behaviour: Wilfred Brown & Elliott Jaques

E. Forrest Christian Organizations, Theory 1 Comment

Behavior is as much defined and limited by the role that a work inhabits as his personality and the quality of his relationships within the company. Lord Wilfred Brown, the Managing Director of Glacier Metal Company for decades and a major management thinker in his own right, was insistent on this point. You can even take this farther than he …

Trust Is Necessary To Society. The Glacier Model Builds Trust

E. Forrest Christian Change, Organizations, Theory 6 Comments

There’s a fascinating paper at the IMF by social capital guru Francis Fukuyama (Social Capital and Civil Society – Prepared for delivery at the IMF Conference on Second Generation Reforms) that covers his reasoning behind social capital being called “capital” at all. Besides being interested in how to create societies, I’ve always found him a lucid writer who discusses a …

Benito Mussolini conciona la folla in Piazza Duomo a Milano, nel maggio 1930-Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-09844 / CC-BY-SA

Why Leaderless Groups Go Fascist

E. Forrest Christian Change, Organizations 1 Comment

I recently tweeted that “As long as you advocate leaderless groups, the power-hungry will control you. The answer is more complex.” Asked to provide some more, I figured I’d do it here since it ties into some of the workplace stuff we’ve been talking about (from when Wilfred Brown was MD/CEO of Glacier) and the new model of Evangelical church …

New Church Model Isn’t: Multisite Is Regurgitation of the Model They Hated

E. Forrest Christian Change, Organizations Leave a Comment

This continues my examination of American Evangelicals’ organization of their churches, both lay and clergy. One of the big things in the Evangelical world, a real “game changer” they say, is the multisite church. You’ll hear them say things like “twenty years ago, the Holy Spirit was moving and doing a big thing. And people listening to Him said, ‘It’s …

Employees at Mid-Continent Refinery [ca. 1943 Tulsa, OK (LOC). By John Vachon]

Jim McCarthy’s Core Commitments

E. Forrest Christian Organizations 4 Comments

I’ve been reading Jim McCarthy’s materials lately. He used to be in charge of the Visual C++ group at Microsoft. His work there was nothing short of phenomenal: MS-VC++ came out of nowhere and demolished its long-time rival. Sure, MS has scads of cash but that wasn’t the whole picture. Borland went from 85% marketshare to nothing in a very …

Can Entrepreneurs Save Newspapers? Even in Chicago?

E. Forrest Christian Organizations 4 Comments

“Can Entrepreneurs Save Newspapers?” Dunno. But you might. Newspapers are dying. Which means that it’s a great time for a hidden high potential to get into the News business with a completely different model. Crains Chicago has video on some new ideas coming out in town (that’s Chicago) to solve the newspaper problem. Both the Tribune and Sun-Times parent companies …

96805-050-e35dc6cf Birds-eye view of the 1893 Worlds Columbian Exposition Chicago Burnham plab

"You Can’t Handle Big Things Unless You Have An Organization"

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Maybe it’s obvious, but humans built organizations because they helped them achieve things. Networks are nice, and very useful, but the Organization (which is a subtype of network) works in more specific ways. Daniel H. Burnham, the famous Chicago architect, felt something of this. Donald L. Miller, in City of the Century: The Epic of Chicago and the Making of …