The Forward Zig

It has been a while since my last post. Mostly I think Facebook has been taking the time I previously would have spent writing, but also there hasn’t been much to post. We went to St. Louis for the holidays and while we had a great time with family none of my friends were home for the break so the visit was not as active as usual.

My job has been so-so lately. We are going through a re-organization to make things “simpler” and help me be more “effective” which is code for we have a new round of work that can be outsourced to lower cost markets like Costa Rica or Manila. So many managers use terms like “simplify” as a passive way to state these things which to me is a sign of weak leadership. Own your decision: I really respect my current director because she will use much more assertive terms. She also has no shame in explaining that “we organize for the problem we are trying to solve.” If that means we can take better advantage of work that can scale, we get more centralized around common services/technologies; on the other hand if we have exploited scale to its hyperbolic max so now local needs aren’t met, we become more decentralized.

Many people refer to this as the “pendulum swing” and dismiss it as a tool of poor leadership or senior managers “making their mark”. The reality is that progress often happens in these swings and it is not a lateral swing, but rather a forward zig/zag. I believe big companies often make progress not in a straight line, but as a series of forward moving zigs and zags each time internalizing the learning from the previous zag or zig. Perhaps someday, after I have more evidence of the pattern, that will be my book: The Forward Zig.

I’m back.

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