Beware of blobs

Most business models fail to capture relationships at all, much less show how they evolve. The models usually focus on economic things like assets, sales and capital investments. They may list issues yet to be resolved, and people already on board, but not what's going on between participants in the success of the enterprise. If these essential dimensions of surviving and thriving was put onto a diagram of enterprise components, they would likely appear as blobs.

We cannot relate to blobs. There's nothing there to ask about, keep in mind, mention the next time or launch off of into new areas of mutual exploration. There's too many globules that make up any blob to deal with them one at a time. The amorphous shape of blobs justifies an enterprise's disconnect with customers, employees, internal departments, suppliers, journalists, legislators and many other constituencies. When one of the blobs starts acting up or acting out, most enterprises install a commando-type personality to bully the blob into submission. Blobs morph into enemies when given the silent treatment, cold shoulder or sense there's a battle ahead.

When enterprises act as if they are dealing with a bunch of blobs, they also cannot listen to what the blobs have to say. They shoot the messenger who brings news of the blob's concerns, suggestions, complaints and unmet needs. None of it sounds respectable, valuable or strategic to the ears of an enterprise keeping a safe distance from any gooey mess. Anyone on in the inside that listens to the blob is held under suspicion of being a traitor, saboteur or complete idiot. Bringing news of the blob gets regarded as an act of disloyalty or insanity. It's not telling the leadership what they want to hear or "managing up" effectively.

There's no solution to this problem at the level of handling the blob better. The blob must be transformed into real individuals with authentic concerns, varied experiences and potential contributions. That usually takes a lot more time and energy than it took to maintain a disconnect with the blobs. It sends a favorable message to take that time and show that interest. It says relating has become a real possibility.


  1. I'm having trouble conceptualizing what you mean by a blob. Is it possible for you to post a graphic that would illustrate what you mean?

  2. Imagine you had some distant relative, say a great Aunt, that only talked to you about "your family". She could not remember any of their names or keep track of them as individuals. For her, your family members constitute a blob to her. There are too many people to deal with individually. If caught alone with one of them, she would be hard pressed to conduct a conversation, much less learn anything about them or interest them in knowing her better.

    Now imagine all that occurring at the much larger scale of a business where essential relationships are also missing because the people involved are grouped into some category like "that stupid supplier" or "the incompetent admissions department".

    Hopefully know you get the picture (without a graphic!) Thanks for asking, Virginia!