Thursday, February 25, 2010

About averages

It is interesting that the whole point of most organizational effort is to promote average behavior.

We have words like initiation, mentor, management, targets, corporate governance, operating guidelines and so on. But the spirit behind most of these is to ensure that employees behave in a predictable way most of the times – which, in turn, mostly means in line with the least common denominator.

Not that one can blame anyone for this. Large organizations are more powerful than many countries. They control an enormous amount of resources. You obviously can not have a cowboy culture where individual employees can run riot and do as they please without conforming to the overall direction.

But then companies also like to become innovative and break new ground, and that’s where problems start to appear. Anything which is significantly innovative is going to break convention almost by definition – and so it is swimming upstream from day one. The organizational norms designed to inhibit individual adventurism will also inhibit individual brilliance.

Of course, companies have evolved several mechanisms to counter this. Organizations that depend on innovation as part of their strategy have carefully come up with methods to avoid this trap and provide space for controlled adventurism that might lead to innovation. In many cases these methods work very well I’m sure.

But even so, given how the odds are stacked against innovation in large entities, I’m amazed that any innovation takes place in such places.

2 comments:

  1. Hamza5:46 AM

    Sir, I completely agree with you on this...I think the worst culprit in this thing is "process" or the "neat and clean" approach...which is inherently designed to stomp down on creativity. I mean you never see an artist working in a spotless shirt...it can however be argued that Business is not art...but then again nothing in life can be directly pointed out as being art in 100% of its existence (even art is bought and sold making it a form of business)...

    Having said that I dont think that compartmantilizing "creativity"is the solution for brewing creativity within the shackles of the corporate world. At the end of the day you will have a company or a department head that takes the risk of having employees who can dream more than they can think...

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  2. people are people...they make mistakes...but it doesn't mean that this foolishness should be taken for granted. Or will ignorance be an excuse for those mistakes.....
    The thing is employers do takes care of their interest..and they will assert effort even if the employee is correct and precise on what their doing sometimes they need to stop it....
    loopholes are made for certain purpose....
    and i might say the only one who can see this is those people with a sense...

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