unity and diversity

September 11, 2008 at 4:54 pm | Posted in Business | 2 Comments
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Being someone who takes a passionate (albeit EXTREMELY novice) interest in philosophy, I recognize that the relationship of unity and diversity is an age old philosophical question.  Science, too, with its search for a unifying theory wrestles engages it as well.  But one of the books I’m currently reading, D-Day by Stephen Ambrose, also has me thinking about it from a business perspective.

In one chapter, Ambrose juxtaposes two of the main leaders surrounding D-Day, Eisenhower and Rommel.  For all of the alleged “order” imposed by the Nazi’s, according to Ambrose, their command and control structure was one of “divide and rule”.  Hitler never wanted any of his commanders to be too powerful, or to have too much knowledge.  Conversely, it was stated the Eisenhower was given far more comprehensive control, which meant that he didn’t have to face many of the logistical and coordination challenges that Rommel did.  OK, made plenty of sense to me and seems rather intuitive.  Then I got to the part about how the Allied forces were planning the actual invasion.

At higher levels, the temptation to reach down to solve lower echelons’ problems was great, but it was overcome.  General de Guingand explained, “At first we tried to discover a school solution to the composition of the assault waves … but after the first training rehearsal we decided the notion of a single formula was nonsense and we let the particular assault section solve its own problem.” -p.108

So when given total control, Eisenhower and his team were smart enough to realize it was necessary to have independently running divisions making their own decisions based on their own challenges to achieve their own objectives.  In business, we face this strategical problem over and over and over again.  A lot to unpack here, but too much for a single post.  More later…

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