How Companies Can Survive the “Snarkpocalypse”

Rick Wartzman
Rick Wartzman

In his latest online column for Time magazine, Drucker Institute Executive Director Rick Wartzman writes about “an era in which those running organizations find themselves less and less able to exercise control and are often buffeted by the unexpected.”

It is these qualities, Wartzman explains, that “separate the genuinely ‘complex’ from the merely ‘complicated.’”

The occasion for Wartzman’s column was the fifth annual Global Drucker Forum, held last week in Vienna. Its theme was “Managing Complexity.”

Wartzman reports that during the event, several speakers took note of a debacle that was unfolding in real time at JPMorgan Chase, where a senior executive was supposed to answer questions from the public, via Twitter, on “leadership and life,” only to cancel “when the scandal-ridden big bank was deluged with tweets attacking its ethics. The ‘Snarkpocalypse,’ as Bloomberg News described it, seemed to underscore perfectly the highly dynamic, unpredictable business landscape that the conference was focused on.”

“But what is any management to do,” Wartzman asks, “given how quickly a situation can turn in today’s hyper-connected world?”

He goes on to offer six prescriptions offered up by various forum speakers, including the great management thinkers Don Tapscott, Roger Martin and Charles Handy. Among them: radically decentralize, embrace integrative thinking, place the customer at the center of everything the business does, push for simplicity and clarity wherever possible, look outside the organization’s own walls, and stick to a strong set of core values.