Because they said so…


We can all think of several authors and other sources of “wisdom” focused on distilling complex situations and ideas into catchy headline statements; simplistic and easy for all to remember. Such is the case with one that I recently came across proposing… “Pissed-Off People Are The Single Best Source Of Innovative Ideas”.

The good news is that; blended within the bold graphics and bolder bullet point statements, one can sometimes find jewels of sound logic and truths to be discovered and extracted if one is willing to think-through them and probe. The worry however, is that some may take these headlines at face-value and thus, miss the subtle truths (if any) that may have been intended and/or buried within them.

In the case above, the proposition may make a good headline but it simply isn’t factual or logical. Listening to “Pissed off” (PO’d) people may be a good and fast way to “get the drift” on a topic this person obviously “rants” for attention, but that doesn’t mean such topic is worth half of the commotion it raises… this PO’d person may be an idiot, or someone who likes to find fault with most things and forcefully complain about them… this is a far-cry from such condition being “the single best source of innovative ideas” me thinks.

Frustration and anger (expressed and otherwise) can be powerful motivators to change any status-quo, but so can altruism and community, intellect and responsible values; as well as many other conditions and choices nowadays… which may or may not lead to one getting PO’d, which may or may not lead to anything else.

Ideas – let alone innovative thinking – deserve better than this. They fit and squarely belong within the realm of our curious human nature and ingenuity… as ably inspired by the blossoming of a blade of grass as by one thousand raised voices.

To be fair, perhaps the author meant that it is necessary to reach a PO’d state in-order to truly explore new directions. Perhaps he believes that such anger is the byproduct of being convicted about a solution and as such, should be regarded as a positive force for change. Maybe the author meant to express that apathy is creativity’s own sedative and anger its natural antidote; the result of one’s amplified understanding of what is wrong… thus, a natural trigger for action to make it right. That maybe a PO’d state is a necessary agent for creative innovation to happen… (Such interpretations as offered by several colleagues (1) discussing the topic.)

Two people in a heated argument...

Image via Wikipedia

But we truly don’t know this from either the catchy headline or the body of the material and can only speculate about what the author meant, or accept the statement as is because they said so.

Whilst it is true that humans were not designed to flat-line our emotions; that there is benefit in expressing and getting to know such emotions and their source intimately so that we may decide what is valuable to explore and further pursue and what is not… most often, what generates anything “innovative”, is this process of facing, admiring and exploring such strong swings within ourselves first, which will most often bring our minds and spirits into a more calm, balanced and creative analysis state.

When that happens… people, as well as our selves, will be generally more receptive to listen and actually act on such considered change.

Our mind, spirit and the quality of our conversations are “the source”; all that has ever been needed to bring our species from cave-dwellers to cosmic travellers within a relative blink of an eye. No one’s statement (inclusive of this monologue) should be accepted as definitive or replace our individual responsibility to think, reason and decide what is right for ourselves.

This I believe…

(1) – Lene, Frank, Steve, Colleen, Vlad and Tina

Fluid times, Org Structures and Leadership


courtesy of HMI

For as long as we can imagine and regardless of structure, most organizations have applied autocratic methods when selecting or appointing new leadership… in general, these methodologies aimed for the new appointments to follow and reinforce established corporate views and/or culture and deliver to a largely pre-determined agenda.

Nowadays, dazed by nearly two years of relentless economic and financial breakdowns and increasing regulatory and market scrutiny, there are views that continuing and anticipated further challenges over the coming decade will demand a new breed of networking and collaborative leadership, and drive a rise in flat/leaner organizations over matrix bound ones, which on the later, some believe will falter and in-time disappear altogether.

However, I do not consider this a logical view… matriced structures are designed and especially apt at mitigating risk by imbedding balanced planning, collaborative if not aligned decisions and consistency of outcomes into an organization.

Albeit cumbersome and at-first awkward to grasp and manage, in instances where ad-hoc creativity or unstructured experimentation could be viewed as “liabilities”; like within process driven organizations or heavily regulated public and private sector practices, they are remarkably effective at driving organizational cohesion and controlled outflows.

“Power”, with all its good and bad permutations, is within matriced structures much more diffused throughout the organization (a “good” thing) than in their “simpler” cousins; the nearly ubiquitous hierarchical driven pyramid structures, which in-fact end up concentrating “power” (and sometimes shielding it) at its peak and from there “directing” the rest of the organization.

Flat structures on the other hand, were “built-for-speed”…they promote and generate “culture” driven, shape-shifting fluid organizations where many good things like creativity, learning and experimentation can broadly happen, evolve and mutate very rapidly. However, they can also suffer from or be exposed to some not-so-good consequences like; organizational confusion (who’s on first?), the adequate protection of its intellectual property, judiciously balancing and tweaking its costs/income/investment ratios, establishing a vision and staying focused on it…etc.

Essential to all of these (and all of the many variations in each model), is Leadership… in its finest form, the provision of vision and direction; instilling what is good, excising what isn’t, being disciplined to lead by example and becoming the glue that binds the tribe. There is no greater calling than this, it is paramount to all organizational structures and levels and it is timeless.

It isn’t leadership for the future or of the past, it lives in the “now”… it also isn’t defined by style…True Leadership just is that and can be effective in any type or form of structure because it isn’t bound by such rather, it manages and extracts value from each model and variation and fosters like actions in others.

In my opinion, the next decade will see organizations structure themselves in ever evolving variations of one of the three models noted here and paying closer attention to fostering, developing and evolving leadership from within… for if there is anything that is dying fast, it’s the concept of the charismatic “lone warrior” breezing-in from afar to save the day.

– conceptual excerpts first published by the author in Feb’10 on Leaders Cafe 2020

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