Schlagwort-Archive: Growth

The effect of single headedness

Companies that cross the Dunbar number of 150 employees should find ways to spread their leadership across several shoulders to escape single headedness. As long as you can are below this limit, those involved are at eye level – everybody knows everybody; member opinions and suggestions are considered; flat hierarchies and short paths enable agility. Multiple top decision-makers are more likely to create a confusing mess and a lack of settings rather than a clear direction. However, with thousands of employees, one-person leadership becomes a bottleneck. Corporate icons such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Larry Ellison, Jeff Bezos, have above all a marketing value. They cannot take care of everything, nor are they able to guarantee the coherence of their decisions. Besides, not only their workforces but also the network of affiliated partners depends on their mood. Not to forget the shareholder that buy and sell their shares depending on public statements. Jeff Bezos, for example, has pointed to the natural life span of a company of 30+ years, to derive from it the end of Amazon that is approaching that magic limit.

In doing so, Amazon is continuously opening up new business fields (e.g., any kind of media, platforms for third-party providers, Web Services), whose viability should be safe as long as we have the WWW. But even such big owners are not free of the faith in fate. A conscious look in the mirror could bring their weaknesses to light.

  • The missed transition from growth to viability
    Amazon has proven that growth pays off in the long run. In almost thirty years, the increased revenues have been used to expand the company. Since 2017 alone, sales have quadrupled to nearly US$12 billion. However, Jeff Bezos seems to have knowledge that shows him limitations; otherwise, he would not be singing the swan song. Although this is not so much about the end of Amazon, but the end of growth. As a single-minded decision-maker, he has the opportunity to lead his company into longevity by switching from growth to viability. Growth serves shareholders. Viability serves the customers, who, in return, provide the company with income. If the customers are not disappointed, they will stay loyal and hardly switch to a competitor. Disappointment occurs when the deliveries are faulty, or others provide better offers.
    Keywords of viability are a demand-oriented variety of action, pleasant customer experience, self-organized workforce, sustainable business models, Win-Win supplier relationships, and consistent value practice.
  • Inability to meet his social obligations
    Globalization has fueled the business models of the Internet. However, companies like Amazon are using the lack of a world order to evade social responsibility. For-profit interests, revenues are channeled in such a way that they avoid any taxes. National politicians bear a considerable share of the blame for this, as they fail to set short-term barriers to such attempts or even create actively tax havens to attract companies. Understandably, companies make use of these offers – it is only immoral and not illegal. However, in the long term, they do themselves harm, when people boycott this business practice, at the latest when other providers offer similar deliverables and behave more responsibly.
    Keywords of social responsibility are Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Psychological Safety, Psychosocial Safety Climate, Compliance.
  • Lack of imagination about the future
    The adherence to a particular way of running the business is due to the current workload and the usual routine, as well as often to the lack of imagination of the single-headed leader. Presage the end of a business is not a wise prospect but a sign of a lack of vision. Consumption via the Internet has virtualized the business world forever – at least as long as there is electricity and the Internet. Shops are now webshops. Marketplaces are now platforms. Technical discussions are now online forums. The reach of business spans the globe – even if some webshops continue to address a LOCAL, SINGLE LANGUAGE market (a clear sign of the beginning of the end). The question must be now: How will the virtual shopping street evolve? What can I do to stay ahead? What are the critical influences? These questions overwhelm a single-headed leader. It requires certain people (employees and managers), who are willing to experiment, to try out as many things as possible, and to bring viable ideas to market.
    Keywords of the imagination are Learning organization, Design thinking, Experimentation, Hackathon, FabLab, Business exercise, Lateral thinking.
  • Inner resignation of the driving force at the top
    The greatest threat comes from one-headedness is the dependence on the daily mood of the icon. In extreme cases, morale can slip away for a long time, which then leads to clumsy and defeatist utterances. As a result, the mood is intensified by a persistent vicious circle that leads to rampant instability. The ability to fulfill a timely leadership transfer that strengthens the company in the long term is the icon’s final primary task. At the same time, the handover offers the chance to overcome the one-headedness. Bill Gates has missed this opportunity, as he did not turn Microsoft into a common, but by passing on the baton, he has underlined the previous. Jeff Bezos has the chance to turn his global consumer network into a public marketplace that puts customers first, not shareholders. However, with his swan song on Amazon, he has instead shown that in his imagination, he has already reached the plateau, and that from now on, things will go downhill. This inner denunciation is fatal.
    Keywords of self-management are Self-image, Mindset, Self-understanding, Expectations, Strategy, Vision, Intention.

Bottom line: Everyone talks about agility, holacracy, and networks – however, the management levels exclude themselves from these discourses. Teamwork is crucial, especially at the level of the leaders. To hang by the silken thread of a “genius” is one of the most significant risks for all companies with more than 150 employees. Examples can be found in small and medium-sized companies as well as in the GAFAs (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple). Our example is Amazon, which fails to make the transition from growth to viability, which fails to meet its social obligations, offers no vision for the future, and is led by a mind with apparent self-doubt. The way out is a management team with equal partners who complement each other. This avoids the effects of one-headedness.

Let Loose Borders

In times of the classic chain of command, many links wanted more openness. The stronger the participants are concatenated, the longer and more inflexible the companies are moving. With the introduction of computers, the interaction was accelerated by virtuality. However, at the same time, each component was refined more and more and the number of connections increased. As structuring progressed, there was a call for more openness – more flexibility, more contact opportunities and more cooperation internally and externally. Today, digital transformation enables companies, groups and individuals to network globally. In turn, this openness scares many people nowadays – there are no clear boundaries, no opportunities for identification and no framework for action. Stiff does not work and open does not work. What can be done? Let Loose Borders.

Let’s take a look at how stiff openness can be imagined. Let’s work along the words “Let Loose Borders”.

  • Borders
    This word defines a system with certain characteristics that makes some feel committed and excludes different ones. The cohesion is determined by common goals, rules, and beliefs.
    What makes the difference in this case is the permeability of the borders – closeness by insurmountable dividing lines; permeable openness in both directions.
  • Loose
    If you bundle a lot of individual parts lightly, you get a charge that is processed in one swing. This could also be a number of incidents that fluffily rain (un)advantageously down on somebody. Or the starting shot without rigid standards.
    What makes the difference in any cases is the action that is executed decisively – doing something and facing the consequences.
  • Let
    The willingness to get involved in something or to allow oneself to get involved has a great influence on the impression of the close- or open-mindedness of a system. Stress arises when cohesion gets tensed and aggressively defends its boundaries. And also, when the cohesion dissolves through unlimited influx of the unfamiliar.
    What makes the difference is the growth – the healthy balance between content-related stiffness and dissolution.
  • Borderless
    The avoidance of borders goes hand in hand with the loss of identity. The feeling of belonging results from common values and rituals. Without the definition of boundaries, individuals cannot find their place or exchange ideas.
    The difference is the form of demarcation – dogmatic borders create violence; unconditional openness leads to unfulfilled self-confidence, and eventually also to violence.
  • Let Borders
    Simply opening boundaries is awkward, as the members of a group are not necessarily happy about the lack of boundaries (see above). Ignoring the delimitation, we are driven by our genes to defend our territory.
    The difference makes tolerance – walls do not have to be immediately torn down, but only need appropriate passages and rules to exchange ideas.
  • Let go
    One should not stick to what limits thoughts and action or insist on the traditional. A new way of thinking is only possible if one at least allows the familiar to pause. This creates openness and the necessary meeting points to improve and expand due to new ideas.
    The difference arises with the continuous expansion of the system – systems that do not open will collapse; systems that use openness for their own development grow sustainably.

Bottom line: Whether you now let go the boundaries or leave them borderless is up to the reader. The mixing of the words has hopefully made clear that it is about the gray zone between boundlessness and the iron curtain. Systems have no chance to survive, if they encapsulate or fractalize themselves borderless. Let Loose Borders – the interpretation is in the eye of the beholder.

P.S.: Whoever recognizes the limit of today’s drawing has understood.