Just as weight lifters’ bulging biceps make them great at lifting weights but terrible at scratching their own backs, larger companies tend to gain weight disproportionately and trip over themselves. I have come to call it corporate obesity. If you’ve worked at a heritage corporation, you’ve probably witnessed the following phenomena:
- Discussions are more about who owns what and who reports to whom rather than how you are going to make something happen.
- Emails are more about who should solve problems than how to solve problems.
- Teams spend too much time figuring out how to circumvent other teams to get something done rather than getting everyone aligned.
- The BCC field gets too much action, and emails typically end with passive-aggressive (or sometimes just plain aggressive) comments or condescending questions.
- People act one way in meetings, another way out of meetings.
- When you question people, you offend them rather than engage them in a constructive debate.
- You often nod your head or stay silent when you disagree for fear of retribution.
When working in an environment filled with these behaviors and tendencies, progress slows to a painful crawl and talented people lose their energy and imagination. Not every big company suffers from corporate obesity, but they’re susceptible to it unless leaders willfully seek to feed their teams a healthier diet.
–The Messy Middle: Finding Your Way Through the Hardest and Most Crucial Part of Any Bold Venture by Scott Belsky