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HRHeadStart #73: Value of Reorgs; Red Queen Hypothesis
The Talent Agenda
As we head into a period of economic uncertainty, it is very possible that several organizations will turn to the common intervention of organization (re)design or reorg. I have noted earlier that this is not only about drawing boxes and lines to create an org chart. That merely draws out the roles and power structures. However, org design encompasses a broader set of factors and Jay Galbraith’s Star Model (see graphic below) is a great framework to think holistically about the problem. For those who want to get more familiar with the framework, here is an article and an illustrated video.
Focusing specifically on the structure, it warrants a change when it is no longer able to serve the business strategy. For instance, the strategy may be obsolete and requires a total refresh, there may be a merger/acquisition etc. But there are also situations when a structure change may not be the right lever to push. For instance, changing structures to cater to an individual person to retain them or to speed up a team’s decision-making. These may be costly and ineffective. Check out this piece to understand the role of reorgs and when and when not to pursue them.
In evolutionary biology, there is a hypothesis which proposes that organisms must constantly adapt, evolve, and proliferate not merely to gain reproductive advantage, but also simply to survive while pitted against ever-evolving opposing organisms in an ever-changing environment.
The idea comes from Through the Looking Glass, the sequel to Lewis Carrol’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and is called the Red Queen Hypothesis.
Alice never could quite make out, in thinking it over afterwards, how it was that they began: all she remembers is, that they were running hand in hand, and the Queen went so fast that it was all she could do to keep up with her: and still the Queen kept crying ‘Faster! Faster!’ but Alice felt she could not go faster, though she had not breath left to say so.
The most curious part of the thing was, that the trees and the other things round them never changed their places at all: however fast they went, they never seemed to pass anything. ‘I wonder if all the things move along with us?’ thought poor puzzled Alice. And the Red Queen seemed to guess her thoughts, for she cried, ‘Faster! Don’t try to talk!…If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!’
For students and young people entering the world of work now and in the near future - know that your career trajectory is disproportionately (even if unfairly) set by these early years. The most successful people burn a great deal of energy in their 20s and 30s to set their path to relevance and influence. They accomplish a lot more in their 40s and 50s due to the velocity established in the early years. So, show up and don’t just do what you are asked to do, but what you are truly capable of doing.
What are you doing today that will make you feel grateful 10 years later?