Why Large Firms are Slow to Change

Why Large Firms are Slow to Change

I think that large firms are so slow to change because of the sheer size. In the physical world the larger an object, the more massive an object, the greater the force needed to overcome frictional force, the force required to get an object moving. Once you overcome that frictional force it generally takes less force to keep the object moving. If you imagine that a company with few employees is better able to incorporate drastic change because in essence it is easier to communicate with all employees and the success of the business depends on each of those employees taking on a much larger workload than an employee involved with a larger sized firm. Combine this with what Frederick Duffy says:

“In the age of the Internet, at the dawn of the knowledge-based society, it is strange that we tolerate buildings . . . that assume that everyone comes in at nine and leaves at five, and sits solidly at a desk for five days a week. The model, of course, is still the factory where supervisors had to put enormous emphasis on synchrony to force a barely literate proletariat to work at the loom and the lathe. When the bell rings, the work begins. When the siren blows it is over – for the day . . . rolling out formulaic solutions has become the norm in office design”.

I imagine this being the norm across the country that employees are factory workers and generation after generation exists in this format and is subsequently passed down from generation to generation than the amount of frictional force it would require to overcome nation-wide change simultaneously would be enormous. Then imagine the late twentieth century comes along and with this a booming technology called the internet and the pressure begins to build. The world is getting bigger and more interconnected. Globalization makes for stiff competition and the ability to survive or sink is a matter of how fast a company can evolve with change and the output it can receive from each employee. Where once upon a time a company could take its time changing maybe once a decade or two now exists a time where one must contend and update every couple years or be left behind.

But it’s still too soon and there is not enough total pressure but the ball is rolling change overnight but what you have is a gradual build-up of pressure where most of it is coming from smaller organizations that can institute change more effectively and efficiently. From this buildup of pressure you see bits and pieces and chunks breaking off and crumbling to the ground. If you can’t keep up with the competition you can’t hang on to this ball comprised of the world of business. The dynamics are incredible and at a time where the pressure is on you better be at the top of your game or die off.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friction

Design and facilities management in a time of change. F. Duffy Pg 371

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