Cannibalizing Agents vs. The Heavies on Top

Though he’s talking about the American intelligence community, Thomas Barnett sum up a problem all large, action/producing oriented companies have very well:

It was interesting to talk with my hosts after the brief, because the same reform-minded elements who invited me today invite me everywhere else I go in the national security community. As with all cannibalizing agents, they tend to think horizontally and plan adaptively. Never ones to wait on the perfect plan, they more interested in moving ahead and letting the chips fall where they may. But alas, that is always the problem for such reformers: the heavies on top want to see everything clearly before committing, less they lose budgetary control of the process. So again, the enemies of performance tend to be centralization and greed, whereas the proponents of reform tend to favor networking and sharing without reference to cost capture.

As with all organizations thinking, one of the best tools to making it lean is to start with figuring out everyone’s motivations, personal and professional. Those are usually much more useful to know than their official job descriptions.