Infrastructure & Intent

For a while now I have been thinking about what a friend of mine calls the "the unified field theory of organizations". A couple of years ago I felt like I had taken another step toward gaining a better personal understanding of how organizations operate when it finally clicked that networks were a key ingredient. Interpersonal networks, technical networks, whatever, the key was fast information sharing and fast feedback. But still something was missing. During the same time-frame, I was immersed in training, books, discussions, etc. about leadership and vision. These words are so ubiquitous in organizations these days they tend to become invisible.

The events of the past week, Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, have pushed me once again into deeper thoughts about trying to understand the underlying issues about what happened with the relief effort. I started to put the thoughts of networks and vision together into the same thought process. This lead me to the conclusion that Infrastructure (networks, and Intent (vision) must both be considered as necessary but not sufficient conditions, when considered independently, to yield successful outcomes.

If you have a great and powerful vision but no mechanism to do anything with it, … no go.

If you have a perfect infrastructure, but a poorly guides direction, you can produce bad outcomes very well.

Only the combination of great infrastructure and great intent can provide great outcomes.


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