Tuesday, January 27, 2009

From Tech to Disney to Obama: Theory on Leveraging the Organization

I am fascinated by the evolving interplay of entities, and how this interplay is enabling more productivity (often mirroring natural patterns). In this vein, I see parallels between the emerging methods of improving effectiveness of web-based software, Bob Iger's strategy that is driving recent successes at Disney, and Obama's "West Wing on steroids". Each is leveraging organizational structure in new and different ways in order to improve overall productivity.

Today web-based software must employ resources for others to build upon, enhance, tweak, and/or embed to allow the collective intelligence to grow the idea beyond what one person or one compay can do. I have written about this idea before.

In a story in the most recent Fortune (not yet online), Bob Iger's strategy at Disney to invest in brands that span across Disney's many businesses is chronicled. Take movies - family films under the Disney banner have a strong likelyhood of transferring from film to tv to merchandising and so on. However, even the larger hits fromDisney's Miramax and Touchstone production houses rarely grow revenue outside the division. Thus, he focuses on opportunities that can be amplified throughout the business. He is driving execution across the organization, greatly enhancing the profitability of single ideas / brands.

Obama seeks to enable strong leaders to manage issues that span across the various agencies of the Executive branch. "(P)roblems like global warming sprawl across several agencies, often requiring a sort of uber-Cabinet member – a czar – to confront them." Similar to Iger, he expects to tackle issues by attacking them head-on and across various agencies, holistically, instead of piece-by-piece.

Time will tell if Obama's efforts will be successful. But, given natural references, recent tech trends and Iger's success at Disney, the model has legs...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bureaucracy Kills Innovation: WH Friends, Fight the Process!

Anne Kornblut's article on what the Obama staff is encountering as they arrive to work is a little too kitchy, and misses a critical fundamental problem with our government bureaucracy - it is not designed to keep up with technological innovation.

David Almacy, former Internet Director under Bush laments:
"The White House itself is an institution that transitions regardless of who the president is," he said. "The White House is not starting from scratch. Processes are already in place."
With all due respect to David, it is precisely these processes that must be killed. This type of bureaucracy is in direct conflict with the continued expedience of technological innovation. As the speed with which innovations arise increases, more pressure is placed upon this conflict. Either the innovation will be stifled, or the bureaucracy must fall.

White House staff members must be able to use Facebook, as 80 million constiuents are there. They must be able to use their personal email accounts, as the personal continues to intertwine with the professional. And they must remain mobile and not be tied to desktop PCs.

Allowing this institutional b.s. to bar White House staff from the tools that have become the mainstay of the young urban professional will undoubtedly stifle the innovation and enthusiasm the campaign generated, and reduce the Executive Office of the President to little more than a democratic version of the Bush administration - surely not what the country needs right now...