Leaving Yongsan Station. (c) Danleo (CC BY 2.5). Via Wikimedia Commons.

Becoming the Enablement Vehicle for Others’ Unarticulated Desires

Back when I was working on the GO Society’s book, Organization Design, Levels of Work and Human Capability: Executive Guide, I had the opportunity to spend an Sunday afternoon talking to Julian Fairfield in his early Monday morning. (I love talking to Australia!) He’s an amazing thinker with a wide ranging interest that started years ago on the shopfloor, moved …

A Conversation with Luc Hoebeke: Part 2

Here’s part two of my interview with Luc Hoebeke, the Belgian management thinker and author of Making Work Systems Better: A Practitioners Guide. Hoebeke (pronounced, more or less, “HOO-bay-kuh”) is a RO-heretic: he likes General Theory of Bureaucracy and the original work, but thinks pretty poorly of Requisite Organization. See Part 1 for his particular departures.

Blueberries in woman's hands. c) donatellasimeone. Via Fotolia

“Low-Hanging” Means “Pick Last”

It’s odd that an agricultural phrase (“low-hanging fruit”) came into business usage. Most of our business metaphors come from the military. It’s not a good fit. Agriculture would be, I’d reckon. From what I know from talking to successful farmers and gardeners, it’s a hard life full of risk. You have weather, sure, but you also have changes from plot to plot. You don’t just have to worry about which landrace will work on your soil but which will work best when it’s wet in the spring, dry in the summer and wet at harvest. All rice are not the same. You must predict the unpredictable (weather), rally forces to react to outside actions (war, markets, catastrophic atmospheric events), create adequate reserves while not having so much that they go to waste. Most of the time, there aren’t known good decisions. You have to make decisions in uncertainty, relying on the wisdom of the past and your own experience. Even non-modern farming has these issues.

"Black Dog being chased from the Admiral Benbow Inn by Captain Billy Bones" by N.C. Wyeth. From Treasure Island, 1911 (cropped)

Business Consultants vs Professors: Death Cage Match!

Business Consultants and Professors do mix a bit: you get professors becoming consultants or doing consulting in the 20%. (You have to do 80% of your time dedicated to the university, I’ve been told, but you can use the other 20% to do what you want.) And consultants often teach a class or end up just professoring after making their …