people > culture > values > strategy > technology
Technology is—and ought to be—the /byproduct/ of far more important, powerful, and deep-rooted aspects of organisations — including wholesale societies. The pandemic of technology-solutionism gleefully embraced and amplified by all and sundry makes me believe that people seem to have decided it's the other way around.

Here is a chain of causality that appeals to my sensibilities about the location of technology, in context of organisations. "Technology solutionism" is the (apparently irressistible) urge to invert the chain of causality.

The premise…

—> People create culture.

——> Culture shapes values.

———> Values inform strategy.

————> Technology is Strategy actualised.

The implication…

Worst case Best case
> Destructive technology results > Constructive technology results
> from violent strategy > from enlightened strategy
> borne of pathological values > borne of generative values
> normalized by vile culture > normalized by alive culture
> catalysed by fear-based leadership (verb-form) > catalysed by trust-based leadership (verb-form)
> enabled by hapless bystanders > co-created by highly engaged participants
Unfortunately widespread, easily achieved. Fortunately achievable, though high-effort.
Hallmark of negative performance. Hallmark of elite performance.

Wouldn't it be nice if the "Best case" happened most of the time?

Wouldn't you like to be the sort of leader who makes it happen? A person of whom people genuinely say "I did some of the best work of my life because of their leadership."? Isn't that what good leadership is all about?

I've had one or two of those in my life so far. Enough to believe.

Here's the thing, though.

  • It requires a lot of self-work, but you can't go it alone.
  • There are no roads, but there are landmarks, GPSes, and gyroscopes.
  • There are no formulas, but there are stories, clues, and feedback loops.
  • There are few such leaders, but there are many followers, and leadership is teachable. Anyone going on this quest will discover the surprising array of people who want to rally around to help them succeed. I know I would!

There are many places to look. Here's just one such bag full of some pretty good clues.

Table: The Westrum organizational typology model: How organizations process information (Source: Ron Westrum, "A typology of organisation culture)," BMJ Quality & Safety 13, no. 2 (2004), doi:10.1136/qshc.2003.009522.)
Pathological Bureaucratic Generative
Power oriented Rule oriented Performance oriented
Low cooperation Modest cooperation High cooperation
Messengers "shot" Messengers neglected Messengers trained
Responsibilities shirked Narrow responsibilities Risks are shared
Bridging discouraged Bridging tolerated Bridging encouraged
Failure leads to scapegoating Failure leads to justice Failure leads to inquiry
Novelty crushed Novelty leads to problems Novelty implemented

Happy generative acculturing! _\\//

P.S. If you're on quest to build a generative software organization, and you wish you had some eval/apply assistance, I will be delighted to play Watson while you Sherlock. Email me at sherlockseekingwatson (at) evalapply (dot) org.