After working in leadership roles for a decade, I’m still baffled at how cultish large organizations can be.
No matter where I look and what former colleagues tell me of the places they now work at, I hear the same stories of tools and structures: dysfunctional performance appraisals, OKRs of dubious quality, broken managerial hierarchies, and always some flavor of agile methodologies when in fact nothing is agile.
Every single of those tools and practices can usually be tracked to a single company that developed it to solve a problem they had locally, and then some consulting firms heard of it and productized it into training material that they could charge money for.
And so we end up with processes, each from its own distinct cultural context in which it was working and effective, being passed to consultants who don’t fully understand that culture. And then those consultants go on to train employees at other companies who find themselves two degrees removed from the source, and who naturally are struggling to make sense of it. And I’m being generous here, because often you have a chain of consultants who have taught one another to the point that everything has been watered down to oblivion, and all that’s left is language.
Without going into too much detail, I will start by covering three examples of decontextualized practices and how they fail to fulfill their original purposes.