When middle-management is screwing it all up – Pivotal Conversations


Whether it’s “DevOps,” “digital transformation,” or even “cloud” and “agile,” middle-management is all too common an issue. They simply won’t budge and help out. This isn’t always the case for sure, but “the frozen middle” is a common problem.

With a big ol’ panel of people (including two folks from RedMonk), we talk about tactics for thawing the frozen middle.

However, CEOs often just tell their companies that they “must execute the strategy better.” Clearly this advice isn’t very helpful, as it’s as obvious as saying, “Let’s all just do a better job!” What companies need is to identify specifically what it is that they must execute better. For example, “improve the speed of deliveries” would be a far more helpful instruction, one that could help a company achieve its strategic goal of improving customer service.

Hoarding and trading information as currency in the enterprise

I don’t know about counterintuitive, but there was a great piece of insight that Sam Zell, the real estate mogul from Chicago, said to me that really made me rethink what a big organization is really about. He said, as an entrepreneur, [he needs] as much information as possible. In a big corporation, people use information as currency. So they trade it. The more information a person has, the more power that person has in a big organization. But, he said, in a small company or an entrepreneurial environment, if you’re keeping a piece of information away from [him], then you’re damaging [his] company because [he needs] to make decisions quickly and [he needs] to make them with as much information as possible.

He told me a story about a woman who he hired from a major corporation. He said she was an overachiever. He said she was a star all the way through her career. Nine months after she joined his organization, he fired her. He said it was because she used the same practice of using information as currency. When he told me that, I thought, “Geez, how many big companies have I worked for where I have seen that happen?” I have done the same thing. I have committed the same crime of using information to get information from other people and using information and hoarding it so that I have power over colleagues. I thought, “That is such a great observation, and I need to check myself….” Organizations talk about transparency, but it’s the execution of it that really matters.

Some good insights on how big companies work (that is, the people in them!), there, and how to work adjust per the size of the company and team.

Hoarding and trading information as currency in the enterprise