Josephine Green has an interesting way of making clear how the world we do business in is changing around us. She uses the analogy of a pyramid and a pancake. The pyramid stands for the 20th century with hierarchical structures, a predictable future and a command-and-control style leadership. The pancake stands for the 21st century with a circle full of interconnected people that exchange information, ideas and solutions faster and more effectively than you could possibly “manage” if you tried to organize it.
You can find a video of Josephine Green’s keynote at the Leap 2010 conference here. The entire video is 30 minutes. The Pyramids to Pancakes part is in the first 15 minutes, but be warned: chances are you will want to see the rest as well. If you would rather read about it, here is a page at Philips Design (where she worked for many years) with a PDF at the bottom of the page. Some people got so carried away with the concept of Pyramids to Pancakes they created a movement.
If the world is changing, our organizations need to adapt to survive in this new world. A pyramid organization, running on hierarchy and command-and-control, is not going to make it through the 21st century. Organizations have to become more pancake-like to be successful. More like a network, acknowledging the professionalism of its members and more result-driven than policy-driven. Josephine Green explains it much better than I can. Now wouldn’t it be great if the projects that you run would contribute to your organization being successful? Yeah, duh. Stupid question of course. Then why is it that we run all of our projects like pyramids?
If your project is to help your organization become more like a pancake, your project itself has to be like a pancake. Maybe not completely, but your project has to be at least a little cl0ser to the pancake than the rest of your organization. I will write more about this in the near future.