Organizations vs. businesses

When I see the word “organization” in the title of a book, I know it is not aimed at small businesses.

The same thing happens to me when they talk about “strategy” or “leadership”.

I’m not saying that a small business is not an organization, far from it.

Nor am I saying that that small business doesn’t have a strategy to get ahead and grow or that I don’t have to apply leadership with my first employees.

But words are important and they say much more than they mean.

They speak to the intent of the writer.

Because when the book or the talk or the article uses those terms, it’s one of two things:

  • It is intended for all types of organizations.
  • It is presented by an expert who has studied a lot of theory.

In the first case it will be of little use to a small business because, almost certainly, he will show me examples applicable to medium-sized companies, multinationals, municipalities or even NGOs. He will try to please everyone.

And I know that it will be very difficult for me to interpret and translate it to the day-to-day life of my small business (or that of my client).

In the second because, although what he explains may be perfectly valid and justified, he will say it in generic and abstract terms where everything goes and everything fits.

My brain has to be always looking for ways to apply what I read and what I see and what I hear to concrete actions that I can put into practice.

When I read

“Respect is the fragile thread that keeps organizations and teams strong. It is the respect that the leader has for his followers and that makes him defend a solid coherence between what he says and what he does. Respect should be what inspires any hierarchical or flat relationship in the organization.”

What my mind interprets is.

“Before I open my mouth with my employee I must be mindful that he sees that I am proposing, not imposing, an idea for improvement and that it is what I myself did in a similar situation.”

If it takes me a lot of effort to translate the language into my personal experience the less useful will be what I can extract from it. If I have to ruminate for two minutes on each paragraph I will end up abandoning it.

My time is money.

Even worse if what you tell me is not even applicable to me.

I am not Nokia or Kodak or GitHub or even Apple. Those examples can inspire me and can be easily understood by everyone. But, at the same time, those examples make me feel that I am playing in a different league and that what he tells me is not applicable to my own company.