The tragedy is that so many have ambition and so few have ability.
You walk in the corridors of large organizations and you get the feeling that there are just too many people around. You can’t explain why but somehow your familiarity with the organization suggests to you that there is just too much bureaucracy there and they could have done the same with less. Not everybody seem to be as busy as you would have thought they should be and this, you surmise, is a clear indication that an inefficient process is abound.
I was, up until very recently, a great disbeliever in the ability of organizations to efficiently reign in on their processes (and by implication – on their human resources) so they are lean, economical and productive.
A conversation with a builder friend of mine has somewhat changed my mind.
“I was called in to a construction site to complete some work. I took a team of 6 people with me and was then told off by my plumber that I’m taking too many people”. “If you take this many people”, he told me, “there’s a good chance that for some time they will stand there idle doing nothing”.
“I disagreed with this observation”, my friend tells me, “because although he was right in general terms, there is a comfort in having large numbers around, there is a comfort in having that many people because when the pressure increases and the unexpected occurs, they can get things done, and quickly, thus allowing me to meet the customer’s expectations”.
The discussion I was having with him then turned to the fact that not all his workers are the same. Some are better than others and, certainly with the younger ones, the quality of their work cannot be predicted.
And this is where I got the following realization: Organizations require many people because they are not all equal. Some are mavericks and some are just good. Organizations are on a look for the mavericks, the innovators, the revolutionaries. You don’t know when you have one in your midst until you get them in and give them a chance. But you need to have a pool of many in order to find the gems that would propel your organization forward. As you drill and look for those gems you end up sifting through a lot of dirty soil – and that’s ok – because as you do that you increase your chances of unearthing those individual that can help make a difference.
So there you go. That’s my (tentative) theory for why organizations keep on growing.
And before you kill the idea, think about it!