In an article entitled What Really Works in the current issue of Harvard Business Review, authors Nitin Nohria, William Joyce, and Bruce Roberson report that of the 160 companies they studied,
We learned, for example, that it doesn’t really matter if you implement ERP software or a CRM system; it matters very much, though, that whatever technology you choose to implement you execute it flawlessly. Similarly, it matters little whether you centralize or decentralize your business as long as you pay attention to simplifying the way your organization is structured. We call the winning combination the 4+2 formula for business success. A company that consistently follows this formula has better than a 90% chance of sustaining superior business performance.
The July issue also contains an article by Art Kleiner that asks, Are You In with the In Crowd? Reading Kleiner's article, I realized that every large organization I've ever worked with has its own "In Crowd" or "core group." That's good and it can be bad.
The core group won’t be found on any formal organization chart. It exists in people’s minds and hearts—indeed, the root of the word “core” is probably the Latin word cor, for heart. It comprises the cluster (or clusters) of people whose perceived interests and needs are taken into account, consciously or not, as decisions are made throughout the organization. In most organizations, talking explicitly about this group is taboo; its existence is a dirty secret that contradicts the vital corporate premise that we all have a common stake in the company’s success. In fact, all employees do have a common stake in the company’s success, but the company has a greater stake in the success of some employees than of others.
This is all too true:
What to do? Create a core group of exemplary leaders, not masters and toadies:
For once, here's an alumni benefit of substantial benefit: I now receive HBR online. For free.
Culture is vital, in spite of the feelings of some managers that it's "soft" and hardly worthy of the sort of attention devoted to manufacturing or IT.
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