The best cultures are aspirational.
“Over time many companies get comfortable doing what they have always done, with a few incremental changes. This kind of incrementalism leads to irrelevance over time, especially in technology, because change tends to be revolutionary not evolutionary” (Larry Page, Founders Letter, 2013)
Couple of good ideas percolating through the wonderful book “How Google Works“, by Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg (John Murray, 2017).
First: “knowledge workers” (as conceptualized first by Peter Drucker, Landmarks of tomorrow, 1959) in most traditional industries attain either deep technical proficiency in their tools of trade without broad vision of the organization at large or they gain managerial breadth at the expenses of technical knowledge. But the economy we are embedded in requires to retool those long held assumptions and refocus the culture of the company in the direction of people that “are not confined to specific tasks. They are not limited in the access to their company’s information and computing power. They are not averse to taking risks nor are they punished or held back in any way when those risky initiatives fail” : we are talking of the ‘smart creatives’.
Second idea is indeed a definition of those people, the ‘smart creatives’. Thanks to the Cambrian explosion in technology, the information flow has become more ubiquitous and old structures of top-down command-and-control are not adequate any longer. Standard practice of handling “Knowledge Workers” have to be superseded. The new breed, the ‘smart creatives’, are the key to achieving success in the Internet Century: “all must possess business savvy, technical knowledge, creative energy and a hands-on approach to getting things done”. The information ceases to flow one-way only.
Still reading – will update as ideas come along. In the mean time, I cannot fail to acknowledge the fact that the book is a reminder of old Robert Heinlein’s quote:
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
One of Humanism and Enlightenment goals had always been overcoming the fragmentation of modern life. One could argue that is the core message of (young) Marx’ critique to specialization. Are we finally getting there?
Categories: Strategy, Technology
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