Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Carly on biology...

FIORINA: I think an organization today needs to be permeable. There need to be lots of places where there are connections with the muddy, cloudy boundaries that exist. One thing to bear in mind is in that kind of world, which is where things are going, you require some tolerance for a bit of chaos. It's not all going to be neat. There will be shifting alliances, and relationships will not always be clean and pure. The technology industry has really pioneered the idea of competition, and sometimes it is messy and uncomfortable. But that is what it takes. I think in this chaos, this muddiness, there are fewer and fewer decisions that chief executives can and should make. I think the role of leadership now is to set the frame, and by setting the frame I mean make the high-order decisions around strategy, structure, process, rewards, metrics, culture and behavior. Get the frame right. But within that frame I think it's the job of leadership to set people free and let them go out and create the relationships, push the boundaries, be entrepreneurial. So much of that permeability is required to respond with speed to changing market requirements.

I think biology is actually the appropriate science in this way. I have this mental picture of the organization really functioning like an organism, moving around, feeling its way through a new space. That is not a model where centralized command and control work.

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