Fighting Change, Every Step of the Way

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Hugh MacLeod absolutely nails one of the biggest problems facing people trying to effect change in big corporations:

Office Life1. “Agents of Calcification”. This is a rather snarky
term I recently coined to describe the folks in a big company- any big
company, not necessarily Microsoft- whose role isn’t to invent, make,
or sell stuff, but to maintain and enhance the apparatus of bureaucracy,
even at the expense of the business itself. Though these agents can
serve a legitimate organizational purpose, when any company has too
many of these people, you sadly end up with this cartoon
[i.e. a “Big Lump o’ Death”]. The bigger the company gets, the more
energy anybody trying to get anything interesting done will have to
spend, trying to navigate around these folk.

I suspect these people are invaluable in good times, keeping the company working efficiently and effectively at what it does best to make money. But at times of great change, they’re a problem.

Corporations are, by definition, large organisations. And large organisations tend to develop interest groups whose agendas actually conflict with other, even as each tries to do their best for the company’s future. People like Hugh describes occasionally make me want to purchase a large axe and employ it in vigourous meeting room discussion, but, in the end, they are just doing their jobs. It’s just a shame that the company they’re protecting may be vanishing around them.

Most of the time, I love my job. But once in a while, I suspect it would be easier to get where I’m trying to go by starting somewhere else entirely…

Never mind, I made my choice – and there are more than enough agents of change around me to make it more than worthwhile.

corporate lifework

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.