“Sometimes you make choices in life and sometimes choices make you.”
We need everyone to be data savvy.
We need everyone to use Slack.
We need everyone doing this thing
We need everyone to think this.
We need everyone to learn this.
Its almost like business believes the secret to success resides in evenness.
Well. I reject evenness.
I believe the secret to success in business resides in unevenness, specifically, maximizing the natural unevenness in people, life and the marketplace.
At our core, our essence, we, humans, learn unevenly. We believe different things, like different things, do different things and will demand different things to maximize our potential.
This means evenness is average. The average of everyone.
This means the larger your organization the more average evenness makes you. Ok. Its not even average. Evenness will arc toward the lowest common denominator and in doing so you will, in your pursuit of Even, create inherent inequality – the haves and the have nots, the ones who do and the ones who don’t. this actually means that not only will your average will actually suck but that in your suckedness your ‘even’ will reside in a horribly skewed bell curve – tribes will emerge in a “high average” and a horde will reside in an “extremely low average”.
It has taken business a long time to figure out evenness, while appearing to be a good objective, is not exactly what everyone should be aspiring to. For a long time Evenness was defined as “standardization.” There was a relentless pursuit of replicable attitudes, behaviors & actions (& system/process) in order to make an organization focused on one specific objective – profitability. The problem was that in the standardization pursuit business began shedding what makes business, well, immortal – creativity, adaptability, resource agility, innovation. They became well oiled machines (with parts wearing down on a weekly basis) aimed at one objective at the expense of any other opportunistic objectives. Business, in love with evenness, began investing their future in MAINTAINING the evenness rather than seeking to improve upon what existed. To quote Drucker:
All are business concepts grounded in evenness. The smoother they are, the more linear they appear, the higher perceived value to a business leader.
Note: Don’t confuse this with efficiency (which is simply a byproduct).
Here is the problem with evenness (part 1).
Things grow unevenly which is actually a reflection of natural growth rather than some manufactured growth.
Brands should be grown unevenly.
Lives should be lived unevenly.
Learning should be encouraged to happen unevenly.
And, yes, business should be conducted unevenly.
Here is the problem with evenness (part 2).
Rough edges, the unevenness, represents not vulnerabilities, but rather velocity into opportunistic space.
Yeah. But. In reading this a bunch of business people are going to, well, freak out. Yeah. Bottom line. They will freak.
Ruins the culture!
Lack of alignment!
And then they will become maniacal control freaks. Business is trapped in the nice even edges found in some absurd concept of “continuous growth.” Business constantly wants to try and control how the growth connects to miscellaneous thoughts, emotions and information stored in the human brain (the human potential) and the process/systems (the structural potential).
I will remind everyone of one of my favorite quotes:
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
I am not suggesting NO consistency is good. It has to be proportionate to the context (not balanced). What I mean by that is consistency has to be restless. It actually has to be, uhm, uneven a bit. It cannot be foolish, but rather contextually smart to maximize efficacy (efficiency gained in replicable systems and effectiveness gained in opportunistic strategic emergent activity). It is as Toffler suggested in The Adaptive Corporation:
Successful business demands doing two things at the same time – execute for now and adapt for the future. It actually demands some consistent process (the things easily replicable) and inconsistent efforts (application of resources and people against opportunistic endeavours).
It is as what Toffler suggested, in 1985:
Business will always be the alchemy between consistent process and inconsistent opportunity, in other words, standardization and destandardization (or what Taleb called ‘the fragile and antifragile aspects of a business). That means business will always be uneven. Shit. I would even argue that ‘consistent process’ should only be ‘even’ for limited amounts of time. At their best they should be moveable lily pads of efficiency (solid structure) able to shift to support the best business opportunities.
In the end.
The allure of evenness is the Icarus of business. The moment you fly to close to evenness your business your wings will begin to melt and your business will no longer soar but rather drop. In reality, unevenness is the explanation for the physics of how Hummingbirds & bumblebees fly – they shouldn’t be able to but they do.
I reject evenness. I believe, if you embrace unevenness, your business can fly.