Reorganization: Solution or Symptom?

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Reorganization: Solution or Symptom?

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Microsoft announced a major reorganization recently.  Don’t worry if you didn’t notice.  They do it so often you have to wonder whether one reorganization completes before the next one begins.

They’re not alone.  Reorganizations are seen by many as healthy and necessary, even strategic. They supposedly promote innovation, create realignment, shake the tree, etc.

If that’s true, wouldn’t there be a direct correlation with improved performance? And wouldn’t any gains be discounted by the inevitable productivity drain from reorganizing?

Simply announcing a reorganization instantly refocuses employees from the organization’s future to their own.  A coveted opportunity for the select few is an anxiety-ridden endurance test for everyone else.

Reorganization is neither innovative nor strategic.  It’s a tactical correction that, done correctly, can both promote those things and scale to their resultant growth.

Of course, unhealthy, neglected organizations do need reorganizing.  But not repeatedly.  Frequent reorganization is a symptom of a much deeper problem.

Just because the big guys do it every few years doesn’t mean it’s right, just that they can afford it.  Can you?

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Tactics Masquerading as Strategy

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Tactics Masquerading as Strategy

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In World War II, the European conflict ended when Hitler ran out of gas. Literally.

It wasn’t an accident. It was a key element of the Allied strategy. The Allies controlled the oil and they kept him from gaining access to it.

Not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of war strategy, is it? What about the battles, the firepower, the brave and heroic efforts of millions? Those are tactics–vitally important, but not what wins the war.

Most organizations suffer from this same confusion. They mistake planning with strategy (strategic planning). Though crucial, planning is purely tactical. It’s what everyone is doing. And probably planning similar tactics, too.

Strategy is deceptive. It’s what no one expects of you, and what no one else is doing. It’s what moves the market toward you and away from them. It’s what keeps you in the lead.

So, keep improving your tactics. You’ll need them. But if you want to control your destiny, you’ll need strategy. Just don’t ever confuse the two.

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Forget technology already. Just innovate!

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Forget technology already. Just innovate!

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It’s 1980 and you sit down at your desk to start your workday. On your desktop are a telephone, stacks of papers, a pen or two. Your inbox is a metal tray. Your contacts are stored in a Rolodex.  Your calendar hangs on the wall. And you get your news from a newspaper.

Today, it’s difficult to imagine working in such an environment. No email. No internet. No text messages. No sales force automation software. Not even a spreadsheet. What on earth did they do all day?

With all our productivity-enhancing technology, you would assume we are significantly more innovative than people were then. But we’re not.

True, the pace of innovation, as measured by productivity gains, increases exponentially. But the acceleration is rather steady.

In other words, periods of remarkable technological advancement, such as we’ve seen since 1980, do not remarkably affect the pace of innovation.

That’s because technology is not innovative. People are innovative. Sometimes technology helps, sometimes it hinders. Recognizing this distinction is critical to success.

Now back to work. Somebody has to get through all that email today.

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History's Greatest Innovators

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History's Greatest Innovators

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When the U.S. Civil War began in 1861, medical care was primitive, often dangerous, and at times even barbaric.  It had not advanced significantly in thousands of years.

The war’s intensity and devastating new weaponry caused unprecedented numbers of wounded soldiers.  Most of them died while under medical care.  A soldier’s chances of survival were actually greater on the battlefield than in the hospital.

When the war ended in 1865, medical care had radically transformed into essentially the same system we use today.  Wounded soldiers recovered in the hospital, and most survived the war.

Four years that ushered in the age of modern medical care.  Four years of extraordinary innovation by ordinary people that changed the world.  Just four years.

This is what people are capable of when empowered to do what humans do best. They continually experimented and improved until soldiers stopped dying in their care.  They didn’t need guidance, oversight, or approval.  And they couldn’t wait for technology advancements.

That’s what innovation means.  Imagine what the people in your organization are capable of.

 

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