Fifty six (i)

As we went through our list of influences we talked about flows, and when you talk about flows it’s impossible not to draw arrows. I set to work drawing arrows on the white board. Lots of them.

“What on Earth is that?!”

Georgio was being less than flattering about my artistic abilities. His follow-on exclamation drew some crude comparison between my diagram and a spaghetti dish his three-year old had thrown on the floor the past weekend.

“Is that a meatball?!”

“No, that’s a reseller.”

We found we made better progress with Georgio wielding the pens and with the rest of us flapping our arms about.

It was a view of the organization unlike any we’d seen. No, it wasn’t a view – it was Attenzi expressed as a system of influences. And by that I mean devoid of the normal departmental labels. Add the dimensions of time, money and materials and you have the whole. (Our people, indeed all stakeholders, are critical nodes or ‘agents’ in the flows lest you think I’d forgotten them!)

It was exciting. I could see where our work was taking us – well, if only because Saket had nodded in this direction.

“OK, here’s a challenge,” I exclaimed. “If you try and forget everything you know about the way our company is structured, about our roles and responsibilities and job titles, how would you put a team of people together to bring this influence system to life to best pursue our goals?”

It’s such a tough question, and with hindsight I posed it too early.

Dom tells me the brain has evolved in ways that makes it difficult to tear down established mental frameworks and rebuild anew – such facility has had insufficient evolutionary advantage he says.

My earliest experience of this mental challenge came at school. I could just about reconcile that French speakers consider a car to be female – each to their own I thought – but finding out French has two different words for “to know” was a jolt. It was down right confusing for a mono-linguistic 12-year old. Even though I’m now a mono-linguistic adult I am left less than certain about the strengths and weaknesses of my own language.

But I digress.