Complexity! BRING IT ON
Peter Drucker is reported to have said, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast". Strategy is easier to poach – it employs neat empirical, indicators.
Culture is poetic – reflecting shared sense of purpose. Bridging the
modernist-postmodernist divide has both working – and playing –
together, with culture attentive to strategy’s observations and strategy
sifting through culture’s musings.
On the cultural side of the divide, the so-called Netflix 'culture doc' continues to do the rounds among all those people committed to articulating and embedding organisational ‘values which are valued’. In 126 slides (129 when it started in 2009), it establishes the importance of culture in a real-world framework. It promotes key practices, rather than weighing in only on discourse about the concept of culture.
Slide 55 took me a little by surprise: "Increase Talent Density faster than Complexity grows". Business Complexity seems - based on slide 57 - to be understood in terms of the number/volume of products (few big vs many small), distracting barnacles (?), and rigidity of efficiency improvements. The implication is that business complexity should be slowed down, while talent density needs to increase. I'm missing something here. My experience is that both complexity and talent density increase with growth. Why pit complexity against talent density? Talent is complex. Talent density is complex. I remind myself, "Catherine, it is not possible to articulate complex reflections about culture in a powerpoint presentation." And I smile wryly. Reflections about culture are also complex.
Why is complexity bedevilled by such a poor reputation?
My own experience is that the most successful organisations are those which embrace complexity – including the complexity of culture. They go beyond the folly of Enron (and others) of expecting some magical talismanic protection hanging off “nice sounding value statements displayed in the lobby” - slide 5. An informational era requires clearer reflection. Go for it, Netflix! Bring on complexity!