Seth Godin reminded me in his last post that there seems to be a common issue travelling the blogs these days.
Rules governs behaviour.
Commonly accepted ideas ditto.
Organisations governs actions.
Culture guides behaviour and actions.
Rules hampers innovation.
Bad ideas are... eh.. stupid.
Organisations dampens creativity and lots of other good things happening.
Good or bad, a culture is hard, very hard to change. Inflexibility hello.
That's why such stuff should be challenged and changed to generally let some of the creative, efficient, fun, innovative energy seep through.
There is another common term for rules, set ideas, culture and organisations - they're structure.
In a building we know how to keep the structure out-of-our-way. The beams are hidden in ceilings, floors and walls.
In organisations the structural beams are everywhere making us trip, fall and do stupid walk-arounds.
In a building, if it had beams and walls all over the place, would we shift the beams a bit? Would we make little ladders to make climbing over randomly placed walls easier?
Is that not what we're doing when we challenge an idea here, break a rule there and send off a group to some management seminar (climbing misplaced structural beams course)?
Not to mention how hard it is. Obviously. One questions the structure, and that's threatening.
Perhaps a rethink about the architectural principles would be better spent time?
Like making the structure unobtrusive, out-of-the-way and truly structural for the interaction, action and behaviour of people groups with a common task (aka a business, an organisation)?
A business today relies on the hierarchy as the first level of structure. Second level would be the culture (whatever that would entail, all-encompassing word that), third level could be rules, written, oral, understood and in the form of commonly accepted ideas (pull downs for states?)
What about dumping all those haphazardly placed structural components and start over?
A house is meant to keep the weather away. Keep us dry and warm.
A builder is facing physical laws - gravitation and air flow and temperature fluctuations.
A business is meant to fulfil a customer's call for help (mostly virtual of course, as in having a need).
A business architect is facing physical issues as well - the flow of information, definition and sequence of actions and what resources to involve. From the customer disclosing his need all the way to the customer smiling again.
Why not do a parallel?
Physically structure the flow. Clarify the actions. Smooth the information flow and interactions.
For that purpose there is something called Information Technologies.
Unfortunately, IT is mostly in use to strengthen the status quo, to make life bearable with those virtual beams lying around. Support tools for a bad architecture as it is. But it should be useful if used differently.
[Disclaimer: That's what I spend my days trying to change, but it's hard not to mention it...]
If the flow is physically structured, if the choices are clear, if the instructions are clear, if resource use is clear - then a structure would be in place, and out of sight.
Thus virtual rules, commonly accepted ideas, informal culture and hierarchies would not be required any more. And removing the requirement would lessen their impact, loosen their grip and let the sunshine in :-)
If that would solve the pull downs for states issue? Probably not, but it would let the challenge-of-the-idea less of a threat. Would it not?