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Jason Silva

Wow, right?   You did watch the video, yes?

It is perfectly okay to click and watch again.  It’s fast, it’s dense, and it’s deep.  There’s a lot in there.  Totally understandable … to want to watch it again!

Okay, now back to pondering in the mundane world of work.  But heads up — there are patterns at work!

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I’m about halfway through a meeting to discuss a project to restructure a functional team.  The objective of the meeting is to introduce the outside consultant to the project, and scope out his role vis-à-vis mine, and how we both will be supporting the functional executive.  The executive and I were explaining the wider context, the culture, and the organizational dynamics,  when he smirked and noted, “Yes, I’ve seen this before; happens all the time…”

And my inside voice was saying, “Yep; me too; it does…”

And I’m betting you’ve seen this all before too.

Y’know, when leaders seek to centralize power, authority and decision making, presumably to increase control and efficiency, only to shift at some point and decentralize, presumably to enhance customer centricity and responsiveness.

Y’know, when yesterday, the corporate office made all the decisions; today, the regions/business units have more autonomy and decision making; but now you’re wondering if the pendulum has begun to swing back…

Or y’know when leaders reorganize resources to strengthen the contribution of functional expertise, only to reorganize again to enhance the coordination of the specialist functions with the operational components of the system.

So,yes, like when, yesterday, the Finance/HR/IT/Marketing team (pick one!) reported into the CFO/CHRO/CIO/CMO; but today they report into the regional or business unit heads that have the P&L responsibility; but rumor has it that’s all about to change…

What all this looks and feels like from inside the organization — what you and I experience and feel — is confusion, frustration, and stress … we perceive so much of it to be unnecessary, unproductive change, driven by leaders with one-size-fits-all management philosophies or covert political agendas … and, watch out! we start noticing our lunch conversations are increasingly taken over by our complaining about this or that or more generally bemoaning the current malaise of the culture.

And it should go without saying, but I’ll say it — all this is very definitely a drag on organizational performance.  Which, insidiously, creates that much more pressure to — you guessed it — reorganize.

This recurring (incessant?) shape-shifting used to really piss me off.  And I was a willing participant in those devolving lunch conversations.

But now that I’ve banked thirty-four years spanning several different industries in several for-profit enterprises while also sprinkling in some consulting for a few non-profit organizations and doing a three year deep dive into graduate studies to earn my masters in O.D. and experiencing these dynamics from several different positions and levels inside those workplaces… I can say that I see differently.

Where I once was blind, now I can see.

I can see the patterns.

And I now understand that the ubiquity of these organizational shape-shifts is natural, not to be (in most cases) attributed to leader power grabs or some other ill intention, but simply to the response to current system conditions, a minding the gap analysis action.

And it makes me feel optimistic.

It makes me feel that if we can help everyone see the patterns and not just the event (the current restructure) and if we can then depersonalize our discussions of why the patterns exist, then, maybe we can mitigate the confusion and frustration and stress and anxiety and the drag on performance… and slow down the cycle.

Anything is possible.  Even perhaps a whole lot less fighting the physics?

Perhaps new patterns can be created.  Perhaps we can produce new and better options for how organizations can evolve and grow.

Seeing the patterns and understanding them is to me as it is to Jason Silva, beautiful stuff; for I envision the adjacent future as beautiful when we can all work together to produce patterns of productive change.