Connected companies – an interview with Dave Gray

August 5, 2014

Read time 2 min

The Connected Company introduces an alternative to traditional organization design. Connected companies have a podular structure in which each part is also a fully-functional whole in its own right. Connected companies are designed to value innovation over efficiency. Goodbye traditional hierarchies with command & control leadership.

The Connected Company challenges many of the prevailing principles of organization design in ways very similar to this blog. This post is an interview with the author, Dave Gray.

Why would a company want to be a Connected Company?

Dave Gray: Connected companies are more adaptive and better able to handle change and unexpected circumstances. They can identify and capitalize on opportunities faster. They are more innovative and more resilient.

What are the drawbacks?

DG: Every organization design decision requires tradeoffs. It’s more costly to be innovative and adaptive. It’s less efficient. Innovation requires tolerance for mistakes and experiments.

One of the challenges of not having a hierarchical organization is a sense of uncertainty. I’ve written earlier about starting work at Reaktor and how scary it can be. How should that uncertainty be alleviated?

DG: Again, it’s about tradeoffs. Connected companies are designed to respond and adapt to changing conditions. They recognize the inherent uncertainty and complexity of the marketplace. Hierarchical companies may feel more comfortable and may generate a sense of certainty. But they can’t control the world any more than connected companies can. That sense of certainty is an illusion, and sometimes it’s a dangerous illusion.

If I wanted to transform an existing, traditional company to a Connected Company, where should I start?

DG: Start by giving your culture a very serious and thoughtful examination. It’s usually the biggest barrier to change. I have been working on a tool for that here:

To me your book came across as a practical model based on systems thinking. What’s your connection to systems thinking?

DG: My background is in visual thinking, and you can’t do systems thinking without visual thinking.

Finally, if you could change one thing in today’s organizations, what would that be?

DG: I think most organizations need to be more tolerant of risk-taking and experimentation.

Thank you, Dave!

If you want to know more, I strongly recommend reading The Connected Company.

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