I spent a little time thinking about organizational process flows and corporate structure the other day and realized that although the two are often depicted as being linear and flat, the reality of both is that they are multi-dimensional and often conditioned by a fair degree of uncertainty. The formal models taught in business school appeal to the left-brained, but reducing this consideration to such models overlooks the subtle nuances of the actual dynamics at work in an organization.
Organizational behavior is as intuitive, thoughtful and subjective as it is logical, analytical and objective. Viewed from a distance, a business is an ecosystem not unlike a small corner of a rainforest. The more efficiently its component parts work in concert to sustain the corporation by adding value to the larger environment in which it is set, the greater the chances of its survival.
One of my companies, Energetix Corporation, markets dietary supplements and homeopathic drugs to doctors. I’ve come to learn that our value is determined solely by our ability to add value to the lives of the doctors and patients we serve. As such, our livelihood depends on our ability to innovate, not just in the sense of regularly coming out with new and better products (which we will be doing extensively in 2012 and 2013), but also in how we realign ourselves to meet the ever-shifting needs of the market we serve.
My mind drifted a bit to high school chemistry and physics as I pondered this topic, and it occurred to me that organizational theory could benefit from a review of the principles behind atomic theory. Part of us is, after all, an intelligently organized collection of atoms! It makes sense, then, that there might be something to learn from the parts which go together to make the whole.
I recall that the atom is a basic unit of matter composed of a positively charged dense central core that is surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons bound to the nucleus by electromagnetic force. Its structure is forever in motion, dynamic in nature and a little bit hard to explain, because of the uncertainty built into the movement of some of its parts.
Likewise, a product company has at its core thought leaders, innovators, who are surrounded by a cloud of infrastructural elements – sales, marketing, accounting, finance, operations, etc. – that provide a negative complement to the positive, creative impulse emanating from the core of the organization. The product company, as you can see, is not unlike the atoms that compose physical bodies of a company’s individual members.