Treasure 33 – Organizations and Culture

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This week’s treasure is about organizations and culture. I haven’t counted the number of organizational changes I’ve gone through in the last few years. It is likely double digit. Talking to other people in corporates and medium sized companies, I hear similar stories. I believe companies struggle more and more to keep their organizations adjusted to the complexity of today’s markets. So maybe this treasure gives you some inspiration on how it could work.

Nugget #1 is an interview with Lars Vollmer. His actual book answers the question how people organize if nobody tells them how to do it. In today’s dynamic markets you need to react on a lot of surprises. Your competitor releases a new product and you need to catch up, a new technology disrupts your market or your whole market is fading away, such as compact discs with the advent of streaming. You can’t address this with fixed sets of rules and traditional knowledge. Lars talks about some successful examples of self-organization, one is my favorite story of the orange Volkswagen Beetle. He also says, that many companies noticed after their fortieth change program that it doesn’t work the classical way. Time to try a different approach! (11 mins, video, German)

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Nugget #2 is an experience report from Stefan Willuda, who works for a Berlin based internet company. His peer invited people from a different company to be a guest for one day and have a look at the behaviors, communication and artifacts in his company. Like consultants they attended different meetings, reviewed the business model and talked to different people in the organization. Stefan was very thankful for the tons of observations their visitors made. Despite their many daily challenges they learned to appreciate how advanced their organization is. He closes with a call to action for his readers to try the same, at least with a neighbor department.
Kultur: Wie dein Unternehmen mit den Augen deiner Gäste aussieht (5 mins, text, German)

Nugget #3 is an English talk by Nils Pfläging at Deutsche Telekom. Similar to Lars he elaborates on the right form of organization in times of complexity. After a quick history of industrialization and the rise of Taylorism, Nils explains the difference between complex and complicated. Many people confuse these two terms. An interesting part is a timeline about the different ages of markets (from local markets over spacious markets to dynamic, global markets). After he introduced the case for action, he explains in detail how to organize in times of high market pressure. Nils explains why command-and-control can’t keep up with the speed of the market. My favorite part is the concept of a periphery which is close to the customer and a center, which just serves the periphery and doesn’t control. The talk also covers many of the toxic management practices and explains the concept self-organization, that was introduced in nugget #1. (38 mins, video, English)

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This should give you plenty of food for the weekend. Stay tuned for my next post on Monday, where I will start something exciting with a few other bloggers!

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