Illustration. Executive looking clueless in front of a burning office skyscraper.

Why You Have Useless Layers of Management Above You

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It struck me, after pointing out that Citi’s going from 13 levels of management to 8 was just following the emergent natural hierarchy and so just cutting non-value adding positions, that I never really said why companies get in this mess. If these positions can NEVER add value no matter who is in them, why do companies create them? Probably …

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

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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

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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

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

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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

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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 …