On Organization & Process
"The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious." — Marcus Aurelius
On Organization and Process
Organization is an important function of business.
The processes of streamlining things like institutional knowledge, physical work space, raw organizational habits, corporate values or guiding non-negotiables is necessary for growth and setting your team up to win. We often see this organization arrive in the form of documents, decision trees, manifestos, books, processes and policies. Yet sometimes we resent policy or authority or process or structure. We maybe label them suffocating or hindering or superfluous middle management fodder.
(cue: famous Officespace “TPS Report” allusion)
Our lead partner, self-proclaimedly, loves to parachute into chaos and make sense of the mess, God bless 'im. And business is often (read: almost always) messy. If it’s not one thing, it’s the other. The wild energy required to start and grow a business is, by its very nature, rooted in hustle, grit, and chutzpa (and, of course, copious amounts of organic coffee). This zeal and the resulting growth produces various forms of disarray if left unprocessed or mishandled.
During the start of an organization, the culture and the way things get done almost always come together organically. Mainly, because they must. Yet, in order to “keep the kite in the air,” organization and streamlining must take place.
The intangibles which get the kite into the air, must be captured for the sake of sustainability (i.e. "keeping it in the air”). The process of growing naturally results in entropy and decay if not tended to. Thus diligent tending must take place.
A Springboard to the Highest Good
It would be misplaced to perceive this act of organizing—this tending—as dehumanizing or in any way suffocating to creativity. As my good friend Curtis Powell taught me, the purpose of any policy or manual is (read: should be) to springboard your team to the highest good. And in turn, systematically and systemically create raving fans of the work you’re doing.
But leaders must be diligent to craft these organizational byproducts to preserve (not to stifle) creativity; to foster (not rob) autonomy. To create room for good things to run wild. To capture the “who" you are and “what" you do in a way that makes each repeatable and sustainable as you grow, turn over, pivot, shift and develop. These procedures, processes and checklist give you meaningful data points along your history from which leadership can learn from and iterate upon.
"As your project and your organization develop over time, randomness and unpredictability occurs. Entropy is a force of nature... over time, stuff gets more scrambled, not more orderly. Things decay. Left alone, just about anything we create fades to mediocrity or instability.
Which is why we can't leave it alone.” — Seth Godin
Keeping the kite flying higher and higher.
We must, of course, understand, cherish, and even pay homage to the rich messy history of bootstrapping and creative hustle and entrepreneurial grit which got the proverbial kite off the ground.
We must recognize the necessity of refining and maturing and framing and whittling and galvanizing and organizing our corporate fundamentals of success.
We must create "a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship” as Jim Collins puts it, in order to keep the kite flying higher and higher in the air.
We must continually iterate, innovate, and refine to survive and thrive.
This ongoing process ultimately leads us to mitigate foreseeable inconsistencies, inefficiencies, and disorders which may undermine our efforts to keep our kite flying higher and higher.