Big organisations are frequently portrayed as the barriers to positive change. And whilst they are certainly responsible for many social and environmental ills, this is not the whole picture; they continue to play an invaluable role in a variety of ways.
Here are six reasons big organisations and those who work for them are part of the solution:
- They’re monuments to human endeavour. They are an accumulation of wisdom and effort that stretches back generations. Often making them more effective than new smaller less tested entities.
- Failure can be catastrophic, particularly where there is no sufficient alternative. The fall of a corporate or public giant is costly not just for those directly involved but for communities as a whole. Imagine the cost if the NHS failed today.
- They are communities in themselves. Complex human networks where even some small cultural shifts can improve many lives immediately.
- They have the resources to nurture people in a way that fast moving start-ups and small business struggle to do.
- They provide other businesses invaluable access to markets, resources and talent whilst they grow, often at critical junctures; as with Microsoft’s early use of IBM.
- They can spawn entirely new sectors, or mass adoption of new technology, at a rapid pace; such as Apple’s generation of smartphones and their apps.
If we consider them as living things, large organisations and institutions can function more like entire ecosystems than single organisms; supporting the life cycle of a host of others as employers, funders, educators and vast consumers of goods and services.
Yet, whilst large organisations are important today, they must earn their place at the table like everyone else. And if large organisations do not adapt to the reality of the new economy it is not just them that could pay a heavy price for their demise.
A worthy challenge is therefore to shift the nature of large organisations to embrace the more human and organic characteristics now required to thrive. Large organisations that can make this leap may make a uniquely invaluable contribution to the issues of the day.