Undiscovered Element

30 06 2011

When Dimitri Mendeleev first arranged the known chemical elements in a “periodic table”, I am not sure if he understood the extent to which he was also making space for “as-yet-unknown” (shades of  Donald Rumsfeld) elements. I often wonder the same when I read strategy documents.

Just read yet another big corporate strategic review which is heavy on numbers and strategy and shareholder value and improved customer experience, but rather light on the element that might make all of this happen; “our people”. That is not entirely true; the organisation “has great people”, is going to get rid of around 15% of them, and flatten the organisation. IT systems are going to disappear in droves as well, to increase efficiency. That at least is believable; the people will have to spend less time answering the question “where did my data go?”

Can’t help feeling that once again I am watching a senior team fall into the trap of thinking that because we say all of these things, and some of them are within our control, the other ones will fall into line as well. But rebuilding a business without investing heavily in developing its human capital is rather like planning a colony on Mars without considering the lack of available oxygen.

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