Three types of people in the world

Those who can count and those who can’t.

Well the certainty of change and uncertainty of reality continues at the office. It seems that there are roles, mine included, which do not easily fit into the new organizational model. These require some debate about which of several organizations will get the headcount and then how the shorted organization will manage the work. The debate seems to highlight exactly how similar things will be after the organizational change: it presumes the same number of people and the same work will continue.

My last post contained my theory of The Forward Zig in which progress is made through a series of diagonal, not lateral, moves. The irony of the debate above is that it facilitates The Zig, but isn’t taking immediate advantage of it. Rather The Zig’s benefit will be realized as the new organizational model assimulates the people and work. This brings me to a new postulate: In the macro view The Forward Zig is a straight line; closer observation reveals, however, smaller combinations of lateral-forward, lateral-forward moves.

The debate our organizational leaders are having, while on the surface considered to be one full process that will be deployed once all leaders have aligned, is actually the Lateral-Forward moves happening in real time. As each role is split new information about work is revealed and shorted organizations are forced to think of new ways to accomlish it. So to is the organization who gets a new resource forced to determine how to fully utilize the resource. Smart organizations won’t just use their headcount wins to cover their losses, but ways to rethink the work and get new value from the organization.

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.