Networked devices engaged in machine to machine conversations can optimize what to do, when to do it, and by how much, but do we trust them to ever ask: “why are we doing this in the first place?”
Why are we so afraid of talent displacement as we move into the future?
The answer is to be found in our organizations!
Professor William A. Fischer
THE ONLY WAY TO BREAK THIS PATTERN IN ORDER TO MAKE CHANGE A BIT MORE MANAGEABLE IS TO CHANGE THE WAY THAT WE DESIGN THE ORGANIZATIONS OF WHICH WE ARE A PART.
“BUILDING AN EFFECTIVE ORGANIZATION REQUIRES PRETTY MUCH THE SAME EFFORT AS IT TAKES TO BUILD AN INEFFECTIVE ONE”.
Historically, organizational change has lagged behind technological change by several decades. Yet, despite such lags, there are always those organizations which move faster, more nimbly into the future: A study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that productivity growth has accelerated at “frontier” companies, which use the most efficient processes and technology, while slowing at the remainder of firms. In other words, productivity is being held back by the inability of competitors to the likes of Amazon, Facebook and Google to catch up. In the same vein, Santa Fe Institute economist Brian Arthur, has added Airbnb, Instagram, Snapchat, and Uber to the list of firms which have recognized the advantages of network effects and increased returns, and which have moved faster than their competitors. It was Steve Jobs who realized that: “To an artist, chaos is natural, [and he] was essentially an artist in a Chief Executive’s disguise.” Since machines abhor “chaos,” it’s hard to believe that an algorithm can play that role as gracefully as a real chaos-loving artist in the flesh. What we need, therefore, are more artist-CEOs who flourish in chaos, who are faster, or at least more comfortable with the unknown, and who are willing to adjust to it; who are explorers rather than exploiters. Duncan Simester, of MIT’s Sloan School of Management, has recently pointed out that “Many executives in big companies attained their positions by excelling at getting things done. Unfortunately, a bias for doing rather than thinking can leave these executives ill-equipped for their new roles. How did we arrive in a state where managers do not recognize that thinking is part of their job?” And, the answer is, of course: managerial choice!
We have failed to rethink our organizational designs, and the failure to make a choice, is itself a choice! Organizational capabilities will never catch-up to our accelerating environmental complexities without serious reconsideration of the organizations in which our technologies originate and are brought to market.
In the end, our failure to realize the true potential of our innovative instincts lies not in the smartness of these technologies, but the dumbness of our leadership choices.
All or Nothing