Making Organizations Smarter

It takes very little time to notice how stupid organizations can make smart people shirk responsibility and act stupidly. Add to that are the number of people who have grown up with very little content beyond what they read on Wikipedia.

Present forms of organization intervention focus mainly on the individual (and ignore/repress systemic issues).  Other more classic forms of classical organization intervention (diagnosis, intervene, follow up) are almost dead because of their cost, the slow pace of OD vrs the speed as strategy that characterizes most organizations as well as  the number of clueless consultants selling packages of pre-cooked crap which create a bad rap for OD’s reputation.

I want to share several simple ideas that I use to make organizations smarter.

They are not cure-alls. They are not magic bullets. Yet they have triggered change.

  • Weed out slogans
  • Focus on creating focus
  • Make sure that the mutual dependencies between functions are acknowledged, clarified and “well-oiled”
  • Use personal coaching to make good people better. Don’t waste your bullets
  • If something has not worked for a long time, create a by-pass.
  • Make things easier to so by creating opportunities to use common sense
  • Buy change if you cannot make it happen

Each of these points is the subject of a different post, because people do not read long articles any more.

That’s part of being stupid. 

I will follow in the next few weeks, albeit all points are self-evident, if you ask me. My first follow up post. Follow the link.




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How to ensure that no one in your organization cares about anything

  1. Anyone can work from home as much as they so desire as long as they get their job done.
  2. Discourage time “wasted” meetings in which there is, at times, a semi structured agenda where staff merely “chews the fat” from time to time.
  3. Use Whatsapp (or other chat platforms) as the main channel of communication.
  4. Ensure it’s acceptable for people to check their phones when talking to one another.
  5. Set very aggressive goals to bring out the best of people, but ensure the implementation of wellness plans to help manage stress.
  6. Build centres of excellence leveraging global capabilities whilst encouraging synergy without ruling out competition.
  7. Used digital based shared services to provide HR, travel and logistic support, leveraging global talent in different time zones.
  8. Strive for a work life balance except for crashes at client sites, support of strategic clients, board member requests and finance-related crises.
  9. Hire staff in the kitchen and parking lot to ensure DEI values are implemented.
  10. Never capitulate to salary demands if it breaks the system.
  11. Run critical messages by your PR department to polish them up.
  12. Acquire innovative companies, and put them under the supervision of your middle management.
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What are messages that most management ignores? אָזְנַיִם לָהֶם, וְלֹא יִשְׁמָעוּ*

I speak 3 languages very well: Hebrew French and English. I can understand articles Spanish (but cannot speak)  and when I hear a conversation in Arabic, I understand the jist most of the time.

However, if I hear Russian, I cannot understand a word. Since the immigration of Soviet Jews to Israel, I hear a lot of Russian. All the time. For decades. But I do not understand one word. And, for whatever reason, I cannot pick it up.

Which started me thinking-what does management hear, and not pick up? Using two French words to explain myself…what does management hear (ecouter), but does not hear and “get it” (entendre).

Here is my try at answering that question:

1) The timetables are very aggressive.  The present schedules are wishful non-thinking.

2) If we release this latest “version” too early, our reputation may take a hit.

3) We cannot recruit because our salary entry level is too low.

4) A few key players are on the net looking for jobs. This is serious. People are our greatest asset.

5) Folks in the latest company we acquired a year ago are checking out mentally.

6) If we do not “sell” this decision to the people on the line, it ain’t gonna happen.

7) Diversity is good for the bottom line.

8) The cooperation between units A and B is not because of role definition: it’s a trust issue.

9) It is very hard to restore trust. If we tell don’t tell the truth to our staff, they won’t trust us for a very long time.

10) After we downsize, the best people in the company will start to look for a job. They fear that they are next.

*Psalms 115 6-7

They have ears, but cannot hear, and noses, but cannot smell.  They have hands, but cannot feel, and feet, but cannot walk; they cannot make a sound.












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When the Followers Lead

So much has been written on what effective leaders do and do not do.

Much of what has been written is pie-in-the-sky. Recently I even read something about the selflessness of leaders, which I thought was science fiction or humour.

Leadership is not only impacted by the personality of the leader. 

Leadership is also very much impacted by unrealistic and dangerous expectations of followers. These expectations forge leaders’ behaviour, in the same way that a tweet (as opposed to a fact) impacts the response of many current politicians.

In this brief post, I want to point out the most salient dangerous expectations that followers have from leaders and how the leaders REACT to these expectations and themselves follow the mob.

  • Resolve complex issues of what constitutes moral behaviour
  • Mitigate ambiguity when it is impossible to do so
  • Provide “meaning” for random events
  • Recreate a sense of preserving greatness or uniqueness that perhaps never was
  • Perfuming pigs
  • Focusing hatred externally

And I can go on and on.

We tend to focus on what leaders do to garner influence. But leaders are often led, and kowtow to the desires of the followers for their own ego needs. This type of leadership is very very common. 

I think it is time to talk a bit about the ways followers create dysfunctional leadership with misplaced expectations. And to put all this in a proper cultural perspective.

Oh yes, the cultural context of leadership. How heretic this is for traditional OD which assumes that everyone wants or needs democracy. Egypt, Yemen, Eye-raq, Afghanistan, Russia, China.

But that is another story, widely addressed in other blog posts and articles of mine.

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