What Does Your Business Have in Common With a Captive Salamander? Maybe A Lot.


When I was seven or eight, I loved to go down to the lake at my grandparents’ house in New Hampshire and befriend whatever reptiles or amphibians would have me. Salamanders, painted turtles, bull frogs, tiny toads—I loved them all. 
 
Every time, without fail, I would fill an abandoned fish bowl from the garage with moss, sticks, and rocks, and put my new little friend inside. A perfect home, I thought. 
 
And then my dad would see the bowl outside, sitting on the front porch, and tell me I had to let my new pet go back to where it came from. When I asked him why, he told me that the miniature habitat I had created was, in fact, not conducive to life. That in order for this creature to thrive, it needs to be part of the real ecosystem, for which there’s no substitute—especially not in a tiny, isolated bowl. 
 
As it turns out, the same is true for businesses. In order for teams to be effective, agile, and successful, they require support from the other elements within the ecosystem. There’s a name for looking at your organization this way: system thinking. It’s important to be aware of how your teams influence and impact one another, because that will, in turn, affect how your business as a whole can solve any challenges it faces. 
 

The Entropic Org

There are three main types of organizations that exist, with the first being the entropic org. As the name suggests, entropic organizations suffer from a lack of order and predictability. They approach problems quickly and aggressively, without cross-functional alignment, and this results in some degree of internal chaos. 
 
Teams within entropic orgs often do not communicate frequently or effectively enough, which causes their shared sense of purpose to fade. This means that you’ll often have rogue teams and individuals, high turnover, and a likely loss of revenue. 
 
There is an exception: early-stage startups with small, agile teams. They’ll just have to reign it in as they grow. 
 

The Unstable Org

Unstable organizations, on the other hand, tend to have a confidence problem. When faced with a challenge, instead of swarming to find a solution, they look for someone to blame. In focusing on finger-pointing, the unstable organization is slow to address the actual problem. 
 
Without the support of the rest of the system, the teams that shouldered the blame are likely to withdraw, causing internal friction that’s harmful to the business as a whole. 
 
Teams that don’t feel supported will lose motivation, which can ultimately lead to further failures for the entire organization. 
 

The Intentional Org

As you might have guessed, ‘intentional’ is pretty much the gold standard, as far as org design goes. Businesses of this kind are able to resist knee-jerk reactiveness in the face of a challenge, and instead create a company-wide awareness in order to begin generating possible solutions in a holistic way. This gives the intentional org the opportunity to experiment with quick, agile responses to the challenge and determine which makes the most impact. 
 
Intentional organizations are well-aligned, and able to communicate effectively and cross-functionally. With this kind of system-wide support, your internal teams will be able to pivot when necessary, as well as take advantage of new opportunities. These traits also mean that intentional organizations are much more likely to be able to scale successfully. 
 

What Does RevOps Have to Do With It?

Glad you asked! You probably noticed that the type of organization you are tends to depend on your internal teams’ ability to communicate and collaborate effectively. In RevOps, this is critical because of the impact it has on the customer; however, the internal health of your organization affects everything, from the business’ ability to problem solve to whether or not it can scale.
 
This is why legacy operations, where each department is siloed, just isn't sustainable. In order for your business to thrive, you need to operationalize this type of system thinking by making sure your teams are aligned to your core values and that all the work you do is driven by that.   
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