… A growing startup needs to increase its efficacy without losing its capacity to adapt. And a big company facing disruptions needs to increase its adaptability without diminishing its efficacy. In other words: startups need to become more robust; big brands needs to become more resilient.
Why are so many companies in a bad shape nowadays? Because they were designed in a simpler word and are too much focused on the efficacy side of the trade-off.
Startups and big companies face the same challenge: understanding the relationships between complexity, predictability and adaptability. As the complexity of our world increase, our ability to predict it diminishes and the need to be more adaptable increases, which implies giving more autonomy to workers.
The obsession for efficacy is dooming our companies
…the limits of a very efficient system: the rivalry between the specialization and departments which obstruct the information flow, the delay induced by the classical chain of command, the lack of the big picture by soldiers & intelligence specialists and correlatively the lack of understanding of the real issues on the ground by the commanders, etc.
… So the answer is to create a team of teams, a network of relationships, where one team member knows at least someone in the other teams. This enables a good communication flow and creates a shared consciousness across the organization.
…You also need to empower every team member.
This shared consciousness has to be tied with an empowered execution: McChrystal’s rule of thumb was : “If something supports our effort, as long as it is not immoral or illegal, a soldier could do it.” This is very close to the US NAVY’s practice of command-and-control, called “Command by Negation,” which stated that any subordinate commander have the freedom to operate as he/she thinks best, keeping authorities informed of decisions, until the senior overrides a decision. They use the acronym UNODIR (Unless Otherwise DIRected).