Function not Form

How can it be that businesses tend to do the same things in markets that are supposed to be competitive? Group think limits performance and stifles potential. 

Many of our articles and papers discuss the importance of cognitive capacity to high performance. Group think is a form of cognitive bias, also known as the bandwagon effect. Cognitive bias closes down the use of your own or your organisations cognitive capacity. Why employ intelligent people and then do the same as your competitors?

There are what Bill Gates calls ‘killer apps’ where there is no better alternative and hence we see most entities adopt the approach, Microsoft Windows would be such an example. But how was a decision to adopt the technology reached? Were the alternatives evaluated in order to seek competitive advantage, or did the advice come from the same fraternity that advised your competitors?

It is hard to resist conformity when the stock markets and your shareholders see conformity as the low risk approach. If everybody is doing it then it must be the right answer is also a cognitive bias.

At TAM our ideas are often seen as disruptive because we believe in function not form, to quote Louis Sullivan it is ‘the very essence of every problem that it contains and suggests it own solution’. Surely it makes sense to learn from architecture when designing structures, be they physical or virtual?

Hence, we consider the functions of a client’s business and have little regard for the form before analysis of the functions. For example, we defined a client’s oil and gas business as shown in the image above. the core of an oil and gas business is well established, explore, drill, develop, produce and abandon, and the supporting functions are easily defined, business guidance, information, supply, sales and technical. It is the definition of the leadership functions that potentially adds the greatest value.

Understanding that the pursuit of excellence is fundamental to high performance does not always feature in our world of compliance thinking. Similarly, treating each dollar as a dollar invested rather than a dollar spent does not seem to be the prevailing mindset. Treating people as the very timber of your assets and future assets is vital. Engaging stakeholders, both external but most importantly internal, in support of your aspirations rather than instructing or informing after the act should be obvious. Enrolling everybody in protecting the planet and the people on it is much more effective than trying to impose control.

At TAM we take this functional thinking into everything we do with our associates forming natural groupings into each of these functional areas. Combining their individual methodologies into best practice within each area, giving us the ability to guide a clients functional performance not compare their organisation and infrastructure to a norm.

Each scope for TAM requires a different grouping of our associates to address the functions within the scope.

It is unlikely two clients will be the same, if they are even close they should merge immediately and benefit from the economics of scale. As clients are seldom the same, we never assume the same approach, allowing the client to benefit competitively from the economics of specialisation.



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