Why are organisations so disorganised?

We call them “Organisations” but they’re anything but organised.

We call them “Managers” but they can barely manage their own work, let alone help others do theirs.

We call them “Directors” yet they flail around in whatever direction is fashionable this quarter.

We call them “Shareholders” but they only hold their shares when things are going well.

Humans come together to make things happen in myriad different ways. Working together to solve problems too large to solve alone has been the key to our success on this planet. So why does it so often suck?

I’ve worked for co-ops and corporations, communities and collectives, startups, scale-ups, spinouts, rocket ships and trainwrecks. And I could count on two fingers the places I’ve worked that are truly well-managed. Most seem to get by on good intentions and gallows humour, and a willingness for workers to clean up the mess when management fucks up.

Some believe in the power of a great leader to shape an organisation. But I’ve worked for geniuses and they are some of the worst. I’ve worked for saints and for psychopaths. For savants and fools, and all too often, for the merely mediocre And I can’t say I’ve ever seen much of a pattern. Sometimes things work because of some great leader; more often they work in spite of an awful one.

The common factor is that it’s always the people around you that make the difference - for good and for bad.