The opaque world….and how it change organizations…..

We are living in the era of massive specials.

Yes, massive specials! An oxymoron word I just came up with. It was mainly inspired by my thoughts on what used to be special, something that we will not find it easily, is being reproduced in massive way. Thus, the ‘special’ thing is now more available for more people and in a longer time. In the past, the challenge is finding the thin red line, the special line that makes a difference. Now, we have so many thin red lines all over our surrounding. The challenge is choosing which thin red line that we really need.

The ‘special’ is available  everywhere, which kind of making it not that special anymore. We still have to choose among these specials, which one is really special for us. With all of these ‘overloading specials’, instead of getting more transparent and clearer, our world is getting more opaque.

In business organizations, the same thing is also happening.

Today, we don’t just seeking for people for the business, but talent. And we then see people ‘selling’ themselves as talent.  That makes recruitment as no longer just searching people for functions, but also the spearhead of the business in picking the right talent. What we see now is how increasingly tricky selection process has become. To get to the reliable selection that leads to choosing a real talent, from a huge  workforce market flooded by people who claim themselves as talents, is definitely not easy.

choice and context
choice and context (Photo credit: Will Lion)

A similar experience comes in when we deal with information.  There are many (one can argue there are too many) information available.  Do all of these information valuable? Definitely! Do these information valuable and useful for everyone? Definitely not!  We have to choose which information is useful for us, among all these overflowing availability of information. With this massive flow of information enabled by better information technology, we now realize that we need to be better in managing our communication to ensure we only exchange and process information that only pertinent to us.

That’s not all. Standardized measurements are massively special these days. If we want to find the best measurement standard, we need to ask whose version we would like to have first. It is mainly because there are too many measurement standards these days, and all of them are mostly right. Quite many, in fact, that force us to really spend some time to choose. Even for finding out a world boxing champion, we need to check which international association we are talking about, as there are at least five international boxing association in the world. In business, we have the same situation when it comes to certification. We have to choose which standard we believe it works for us.

Another massive special situation perhaps is in software applications.  There are so many seemingly good software in our gadgets and PCs. There are so many option which makes us feel we have more freedom to choose. That sound right and exactly what we have sought from the benefit of advance technology and democracy: more options!

But IT technology has become a vast ocean of options, where software and hardware are designed to customized with all kinds of users. In managing business and organization, the same situation take place. There are so many business applications we use for different controlling, forecasting, analysis and other functions; all available in various level of complexities. There are more specially customized system applications available for almost everything, as long as you are willing to pay for it.


Do we feel that our view on the business is getting clearer with all of these? Not necessarily. We have more options, but now we have to have a better planning and selection on which applications we need to use, and when to use them. Otherwise, we will be drowning in the sea of confusion.

Take a look on compensation and benefit. In the beginning of 20th century, basically compensation is about salary. Today, the world of reward looks of a list of words. In addition to salary, we have a massive variety of bonuses based on so many reasons. We also have many types of benefits, from traveling facilities to purchase discounts. We also find a huge variety of incentives, from long-term incentive to stock options, from cash on joining to….let’s say…a space trip, maybe. There are so many things when it comes to compensation and benefit only. So many of them, that it makes almost impossible for us to compare, since there are too many special variations.

It is very intriguing to realize how the availability of more choices actually does not make our live easier. With more variety of choice, we need to have better selection philosophy and skills. The right to choose has evolve to be the duty to choose. All of these ‘availability’ was born from our belief that the more transparent world will be better for everyone, and therefore we flooded the world with more availability to choose.

We think, with more options visible, the transparent the world will be. Well, I think the reality is not necessarily like that.

It seems though, that instead of becoming more transparent, the world is getting opaque, as it is overwhelmed with too many things. The way we run our business and organization must therefore evolves. We need to adapt with this new opaque world we have created.

This new opaque world asks us to change the way we manage our organization!


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