Recently I was (re)reading the article "The Knowledge-Creating Company" by Ikujiro Nonaka. It's an old HBR article from 1991, but still a very interesting read. (Later Nonaka expanded the article to a whole book with the same title as the article.) Two sentences from the article have been going around in my head since I read the article. Let me share them with you:
The fundamental principle of organizational design at the Japanese companies I have studied is redundancy - the conscious overlapping of company information, business activities, and managerial responsibilities.And:
Redundancy is important because it encourages frequent dialogue and communication.Nonaka stresses the importance of redundancy in organizations. On the one hand this is obvious. Life is full of redandancy. On the other hand what struck me most is how so much in life and especially work is about getting rid of redunancy. We talk about defining processes, automating work, cutting out inefficiencies, optimalization, not reinventing the wheel, etc. And while we're doing this, we know there will always be room for more improvement.
I'm not saying this drive is irrelevant. Look where the industrial age got us. But I do wonder if we should be a little bit more chill about all the anti-redundancy stuff. I've never heard a decision maker say: "I don't really care for inefficiencies there, redudancy is fine." Why not? Even though we know it's not wrong to have them and it can even lead to good things. Like Nonaka says and further explains in the article. Redundancy leads to discussion, questions, talk, human interaction. And isn't that something we really need more of in organizations? (Not to mention politics...) This doesn't mean more meetings by the way...
As always I'm curious what your thoughts are on this topic. For instance, do you foster redudancy in your personal and work life? And how do you do it? I think I'll write a bit more about my answers to these questions next time.