Is “Will it work at scale?” the most stupid question in business today?
Why does it need to?
‘At scale’ means employing the same uniform approach across a vast array of diversities – disciplines, divisions, countries, cultures, ideas and individuals, to name a few. It means compressing the richness of variation and difference under the leaden hand of conformity.
It means pretending everyone is the same, that their individuality either doesn’t matter or is a minor inconvenience.
It means treating people’s idiosyncrasies as a bug, not a feature.
But what do we want in our modern organisations? Creativity, innovation, collaboration, agility and responsiveness. These are the products of diversity and humanity.
What do want to get rid of? Bureaucracy, rigidity, sterility of thinking, mediocrity.
And the solution to this is to break the organisation down into smaller units, to create great teams and let them have their head. Like W.L.Gore have been doing for decades. Smaller units where people all know each other, that function through human interaction and not bureaucracy, that release the rich potential of the human that work in them.
“Will it work at scale?”. You might as well ask if it’s steam-powered.