We’re Untraditional, But Not THAT Untraditional

Even a place as fast-changing as Silicon Valley has some sacred traditions. Mark Pincus, chief executive of Zynga, a company that makes social games including FarmVille, found this out the hard way.

“Mr. Pincus . . . came under scrutiny for his role in asking some early employees to renegotiate their stock compensation packages,” The Wall Street Journal explained today. “Some saw the move as undermining Silicon Valley’s long-held tradition of young entrepreneurs signing up at start-ups for low salaries but with the hope of an eventual payoff from big equity packages.”

Even Pincus admitted he might have made a misstep. “I’d say in retrospect, given how much that blew up, and questioned traditions in the Valley, I think probably wasn’t a good idea,” he told the Journal.

What happened at Zynga was the age-old pull between continuity and change, a dynamic that greatly interested Peter Drucker. “Periods of great social change reveal a tension between the need for continuity and the need for innovation,” Drucker wrote in an essay that appears in The Ecological Vision. “But every one of such changes upsets the community, disrupts it, deprives it of continuity. Every one is perceived as ‘unfair.’”

Photo by: Charles O’Rear

In the end, continuity and change should be thought of as “poles rather than opposites,” Drucker wrote in Management Challenges for the 21st Century. “The more an institution is organized to be a change leader, the more it will need to establish continuity internally and externally, the more it will need to balance rapid change and continuity.”

[EXPAND More]For such a balance to be successful, an organization must stay true to its bedrock. “Above all, there is need for continuity in respect to the fundamentals of the enterprise: its mission, its values, its definition of performance and results,” Drucker advised. “Precisely because change is a constant in the change leader’s enterprise, the foundations have to be extra strong.”

What about you? How do you try to balance continuity and change in your organization? [/EXPAND]