15 | Geometry

Posted: 07 Jun 2352weeksphotographyolympusselforganisationpodcastgardeningwork
Stuart puts and tugs on his beard in front of a wall containing two arty geometric prints

Yet another late post. I did skip a week whilst I was away camping in Devon. I’m glad I did. It was nice to give myself a break from routine on all fronts! This shot was taken using my new camera. I upgraded from an Olympus EM5 mkII to an Olympus EM1 mkIII. It’s a similar system with upgraded bells, whistles, and a much-improved sensor. So far, I’m enjoying the upgrade, and given it’s been on the market for some time, I picked it up for a price that hasn’t made me weep! The two prints flanking me in the frame are also a new addition to the living room wall and inspired the title.

What I’m thinking about

Lots of good conversations about client work this week, coupled with some recent experiences at TPX (that continues to grow), have left me musing on the tension that often arises between organisational structures (hierarchy, teams, reporting lines, cost centres etc.) and how we organise people around work, problems, projects, goals etc.

The two things are often tightly tethered in organisations. When they are, you often see impenetrable siloes form, communication becomes burdensome & inefficient, processes become bloated, trust is low and responding to change or exploiting opportunities is slow.

Structures are important, but I often observe more effort being poured into the boxes and wires, the structural side of the equation, rather than putting that energy into nurturing the culture, ways of working, support, and governance that allow teams and individuals to transcend and navigate these large structures with greater agility, collaborate well across these artificial boundaries and ultimately become high-performing.

Structural change is often synonymous with cost-saving measures and creating efficiencies. It’s time-consuming and often painful for all parties - yet some large organisations seem to have made it a hobby!

I can’t help but think there must be better ways to focus that energy on nurturing healthier and more productive ways of organising that allow us to increase our effectiveness without constantly shuffling the deck chairs! I’m no HR guru, but surely we must have other ways to reduce (or increase) headcount without renaming and rehoming large pieces of an organisation every 12-18 months.

I’m blathering, but these things are in my head this evening. I have plenty of experience creating high-performing teams. I’m just not sure there is enough best practice on building (and maintaining) large high-performing organisations yet. Is it just a size/complexity thing? How might we do more to increase the seperation between our working methods and our organisation structures to change/improve one without breaking the other?

Other things

  • ALL THE TRAINS this week. Bristol (cold), London (muggy), Newcastle (also cold). I look forward to returning to Dorset tomorrow (it’s always sunny and warm in Dorset).
  • memofrom.me/ has a couple of new posts. One memo I recorded for mental health awareness month was a struggle (but also cathartic).
  • Following ‘No Mow May’, I started to tackle the back garden/jungle at the weekend. I’ll soon be running out of excuses not to start that patio extension project!
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This post was written by Stuart Mackenzie

Stuart works at TPXimpact (previously known as FutureGov) changing and improving our public services. He's also known for being a father, husband, runner, photography nerd, podcaster and excotic disco dancer!

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