Home > Agile > Which gangster organization do you work for?

Which gangster organization do you work for?

Yes, it sounds like one of those stupid Facebook quizzes, but this example is in James Surowiecki’s Wisdom of the crowds. He differs between three organization styles which can be found in gangster movies.

First up is Michael Corleone in The Godfather II. He’s the good guy, who built his organization with a hierarchy. It enables a growing organization, where a lot of trust is given to the local managers. Michael have lieutenants everywhere, which enables him to manage without being present. So, the organization grows, becomes even more wealthy. But the same structure brings wealth it also brings the downfall. Michael isn’t reached by necessary information. The lieutenants keep information from him, skim the business and betray Michael and the organization. Michael has hundred of men working for him but his distance results in him not owning the organization anymore.

In Robert De Niro’s character in Heat, we find the small specialized group. All the members monitor eachother and the individual gain is great since no one is surplus and the rewards are immediate. To the disadvantages are that the group are also limited by the specialty of the individual group members. The rewards are directly connected to that everyone succeed which leaves little room for errors. The downfall comes in a new member not following the script, and that is also common to the problems of this type of group. Every new member is potential a huge risk since everyone have to work.

In Reservoir dog we find a third type of organization. The individual group members are hand picked for a special occasion and the group is built for a specific project. When the project has finished, the group is broken again. The advantages are that the possibilities are great since you’re not restricted by the competence of a specific group. On the downside are the costs for building a group and sense of a team. There is often no or little trust which is a great risk and is costly.

So what is the ideal model? According to Surowiecki, none is perfect but you should try using the strength of all types. All enterprises need some of the Corleone to be able to become bigger. But in a pure Corleone organization, the management becomes detached. In the daily struggles, the closely knit group probably works best, but when it comes to building innovation, it can be a good thing to invite the reservoir dogs.

As for me, I’m not that into gangster movies but I must say that The Godfather I is a beautiful movie to watch. That does not mean that Vito Corleone is the boss of my choice.


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Categories: Agile
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