There’s a core tension in human organisation.

Benjamin P. Taylor
2 min readOct 31, 2023

It’s critical for management, innovation, and strategy — not to mention human resources — that we manage this.

There are four dynamics going on in every human organisation:

* segment — separating people into like capabilities, so you get specialisation, expertise

Here, I identify myself as my profession or group focus. I AM a Lawyer…

* blend — groups sharing learning and working together

Here, I think of myself as an ambassador, an elegant dancer between groups. I’m an Engineer, but I have buddies in Finance — yay me!

* empower — to enable unique skills and perspectives

Here, I secretly know I’m the star of this show, the Player Character

* harmonise — so we all focus on common goals and purpose

Here, I see myself as a part of something bigger — a movement, a purpose, or simply a worthwhile organisation.

These four dynamics drive us mad!

Too much of any one, and that becomes the centre of gravity, the only identity people inhabit, to the detriment of all the others.

Too little of any one, and we’re just not a productive, buzzing organisation.

But often, when we try to remedy this, things go wrong

* we have too much Harmonise — groupthink — so we introduce Agile, to create more dynamism. Suddenly, we’re all strict Agile gurus, following exactly the same patterns

* we have too much Blend — everyone is in everyone’s business — so we introduce a personal development programme. And then everyone is involved in everyone else’s development

* we have too much Segment — the silos are too strong! So we bring everyone together into whole company events — which become a massive fight between silos

* we have too much Empower — everyone’s just looking out for themselves. So we start to reward sharing and contributing to the whole — and everyone fights to be top of the leaderboard

The trick is to see these four dynamics and test and learn how to bring them into balance. My presentation to the Compass tech conference this year — the first few minutes below — starts to open up this approach.

Can you think of a time you’ve seen these four essential dynamics out of balance?