i'm over organizations and institutions

so here’s the thing: i think i’m over organizations and institutions.

i realize that’s a broad, sweeping statement and i will likely come back from it at some point, but right now, it’s how i feel. i have been involved in a few, in conversation with folks in many more, and read about a ton of them. all in all, it really seems like they are two forms that i’m not quite sure we need anymore.

my primary reasons for this are an inability to change (sometimes intentional resistance, other times desire to change but no capacity) and also seeming inability to live up to stated values. to date, i have never seen an organization that did either of these things well (except this one organization, up there everywhere, i heard about on an episode of obsessed with design…).

it seems to me that organizations are great (and institutions are even better) at crystallizing a way of thinking and being (the ones around at the time of their creation). any diversion from that core, willful or not, seems to result in chaos and badness.

actually, i should caveat all this by saying that i’m mostly talking about nonprofits. although i know folks in many corporations, i have worked in many more nonprofits than corporations and, while they also have these problems, they have other ones that i think are more of why they don’t work.

although it’s not clear to me the difference between organizations and institutions (maybe institutions are just bigger organizations?), if what you want is to perpetuate a culture, i think an organization is great. i think organizations may also be decent places from which to support people’s economic livelihoods.

but most organizations i know are trying to effect some change in the world. and, at that, i must say, i’m not that impressed. of course some actually do manage to do this, but it seems like the pathway by which it happens is fucked.

these days it just seems so much to me like we need the capacities to be nimble, yet strong, aligned when necessary, and decentralized when not. i’m influenced here by emergent strategy and resilience: why things bounce back.

this is a serious question i’m really grappling with these days: so many other things we have determined to be obsolete… it is time for us to do the same with orgs and institutions?

ps - this chart, from my friend casper’s report, faithful, explains a lot about why i’m over organizations and yet how they may still have some purpose (just ones that i’m not interested in building right now i don’t think)…

chart from faithful, page 7

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