We talk often of the need for balance in the way that leaders and organisations approach change and innovation. Anne’s comments got me thinking about this issue over the last few days.
We generally have a favourable view of the “balance” concept when we consider our everyday lives. We recognise the need to balance our professional and personal lives in order to be successful and fulfilled. And our understanding of different work styles has taught us that creating a balanced team – combining people with ‘big picture’ thinking with those who pay attention to detail – creates the best results.

But how does this concept of balance translate to organisations and their strategy? On face value, we would assume that the principle is equally valid. Indeed, concepts such as the “balanced scorecard” would seek to embed the concept of balance into the way we design and manage our organisations. However, the research into organisation effectiveness suggests a slightly different view…
When we examine organisations that have been strategically effective (strong market position, increased sales, profitability and the like), we see that they are often characterised by a strong strategic focus – ie we know what they stand for in the market. And they seem to have a clear style in the way they go about doing their business.

Interestingly, focus is imbalance. It is the deliberate over-allocation of effort in one area that inevitably leads to a diminution of effort in another. So, for example. a strong innovative and creative culture will lead to some loss of attention to detail and control. And a high-energy, action oriented culture can sometimes result in a lack of consultation and teamwork.

Clearly, organisations can’t afford to completely neglect some areas as they pursue a strong strategic focus in others, but it seems as if the notion of ‘balance’ may be somewhat more complicated in organisations than it is in individuals.

More about this later… I’d be interested in your views.

Leave a Reply