I often wonder how much business is lost but the levels of assurance that exist within modern companies.
As information passes through and upward through a company, it is filtered, shaped, refined down to the one salient decision point that all the executives can then discuss. The concern that I have is whether the devolution of detail within organizations stifles their ability to innovate, especially in times of stress.
Small companies have a short distance from those that create and work with the product to the senior levels. As a result, senior managers and executives are tightly tied to the details of the product, of the company, of the customers. They understand that details are important.
Mature companies discuss how their strategies and initiatives will shape an entire industry and change the way everyone does business. But how that happens is often lost as those concepts flow downward. Just as detail devolves on the way up, detail evolves on the way down.
It is nigh on impossible to participate in an industry-defining paradigm shift when your everyday activities double and triple, leading to a complete dissociation between the executive level and the worker level.
Why does this occur?
Its not that detail devolves on the way up an organization, but rather that each level needs to assure each higher level that everything is ok and that solutions can be found for those issues that may be challenging, so lets just keep pressing forward.
So the devolution of detail coupled with the culture of assurance gets too many companies in trouble.
The devil is in the details. And sometimes, the devil can be your friend.