Archive of posts in category “organisations”

  • All I want for Christmas are some strategy credits

    Businesses sometimes claim credit for doing the right thing. Before applauding them, you have to figure out whether the right thing was also the easy thing.
  • Lingjing Yin thinks about how to get better at delivering feedback within teams, something that people are generally pretty bad at:

    “How might we treat feedback as an opportunity to learn rather than to teach and go into it with a curious mindset to explore the strengths, gaps and opportunities of each other and the context we are part of?”


  • AI and coal mines

    On the cusp of the widespread adoption of AI, which organisations will successfully adopt it and which will fail? As ever, there’s a lesson from history.
  • Sam Rye with a fascinating comparison between the informal, emergent relationships that become established in organisations and the mycorrhizal networks that link plants within forests.

    “Much like when we began to understand the web of mycelial connections were fundamental to the health of the forest, illuminating relational infrastructure can help us see why leaving relationship building to happen in the coffee breaks is a terrible idea.”

    (Thanks Flo!) #

  • Coordination without communication

    Imagine you had to meet someone in New York City. You couldn’t communicate with them in advance; you only knew that you had to meet them somewhere in the city at some point on a particular day. Where and when would you choose to go, in order to maximise the chances of meeting them?

  • Cultural complexity

    There are two different views of how company culture forms: one top-down, and the other bottom-up. But are they as contradictory as they seem? And how do you change a culture once it exists?
  • Measurement and mismanagement

    People at the top of organisations often feel out of control. But in their attempts to impose measurements and targets, they only gain the illusion of control – and put their organisations at risk in the process.
  • The efficiency movement

    The twentieth century was marked by an cultish enthusiasm for efficiency, from the scientific management of the 1910s to the Toyota Production System and lean manufacturing towards the end of the century. But are we now paying the price?
  • Dan Luu neatly summarises why treating people as interchangeable is one of the most damaging things you can do to an organisation:

    “A friend of mine recently told me a story about a trendy tech company where they tried to move six people to another project, one that the people didn’t want to work on that they thought didn’t really make sense. The result was that two senior devs quit, the EM retired, one PM was fired (long story), and three people left the team. The team for both the old project and the new project had to be re-created from scratch.

    “As we’ve previously seen, an effective team is difficult to create, due to the institutional knowledge that exists on a team, as well as the team’s culture, but destroying a team is very easy.

    “I find it interesting that so many people in senior management roles persist in thinking that they can re-direct people as easily as opening up the city view in Civilization and assigning workers to switch from one task to another when the senior ICs I talk to have high accuracy in predicting when these kinds of moves won’t work out.”


  • Cultural context and conflict

    There are high-context cultures and low-context cultures, in human society as well as in businesses. Strong cultures are often high-context: implicit, respectful of hierarchy, desiring of consensus and continuity. That means fewer arguments – but that’s not always a good thing.
  • The hiring mystery

    All too often, companies treat hiring like a puzzle: gather enough information, conduct a rigorous enough interview process, and you’ll come to an objective conclusion as to whether someone is right. But that flies in the face of even the most obvious understanding of how humans and teams behave. So why do we do it, and what should we do instead?