A few months ago I created a Youtube video where I talked about the paradox of organizations which is as follows. Business leaders know that as their organization’s grow they increase in complexity and decrease in speed and agility, however these same business leaders are constantly focusing on growth. So the paradox is how do you create an organization that can continue to grow while simultaneously focusing on staying “small,” nimble, agile, and adaptable?
General Electric (GE), the 300,000 person conglomerate is attempting to tackle this challenge head on by tacking a page right out of the start-up world. GE brought in Eric Ries, the creator of The Lean Startup to help change how they operate. The new approach is being called FastWorks and is being rolled out to the entire company.
Take a look at the image below (from Businessweek) to see how this works, you can also read the full article that they wrote up about this.
When a company like GE makes such a drastic change then clearly something is happening. Today the rate of change in the world of work (and in the world in general) is increasing at a more rapid rate which places the advantage of adaptation squarely in the hands of new, smaller, disruptive incumbents that tend to have less bureaucracy, complexity, legacy technologies, and sluggishness.
In my upcoming book on the future of work I spend some time talking about how organizations have gotten too large and that moving forward we are going to become much more distributed entities with smaller teams and more decentralized decision making. For organizations to continue to grow and operate in their current models is just not realistic, scalable, or practical. We can expect to see other companies follow in GE’s footsteps and place a growing emphasis on intrapreneurs, a topic which will I spend more time exploring later.