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Profound Shift In Focus

April 13, 2012 1 comment

The following quote comes from John Hagel via this Peter Vander Auwera blog post: “Corporate Rebels United” – the start of a corporate spring?”:

The key answer that defines the post-digital enterprise is to shift attention from the cost side to the value side. Rather than treating employees as cost items that need to be managed wherever possible, why not view them as assets capable of delivering ever-increasing value to the marketplace? This is a profound shift in focus. For one thing, it moves us from a game of diminishing returns to an opportunity for increasing returns. There is little, if any, limit to the additional value that people can deliver if given the appropriate tools and skill development. – John Hagel

For big, established companies who can’t even remember what it was like to focus on value, “profoundly shifting” from a cost mindset back to a value mindset is a tall order indeed.

As the state machine based figure below illustrates, successful startups are totally “value focused” in the sun-up phase of their life. But over time, as they obsessively grow and misguidedly try to become more efficient by adding layers upon layers of cost watchers, the vast majority of them (with few Apple-like exceptions) morph into “cost focusedborgs.

Once a formerly vibrant org has moved into the sundown phase of its life, the borgdom hardens. It’s cost-focus till death, with no memory of any prior, value-focused behavior.

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