The amazing power of organizational stupid

Let’s hope your organization is not like American Airlines, in at least one important way. Here’s the sad tale…

A blogger named Dustin Curtis got frustrated with the cruddy, busy, over-complex design of the American Airlines website. He did a quick, simple redesign of the site, and posted it, along with an open letter to American, asking why they couldn’t do something like that.

Then something funny happened. A web designer from American wrote to Dustin, basically saying “Give us a break; our website is like that because there are too many people involved.”

The group running AA.com consists of at least 200 people spread out amongst many different groups, including, for example, QA, product planning, business analysis, code development, site operations, project planning, and user experience. We have a lot of people touching the site, and a lot more with their own vested interests in how the site presents its content and functionality.

Then, as if things weren’t surreal enough already, the web designer who wrote to Curtis got fired. It seems his 30,000-foot-level description of the AA web mess constituted a violation of his nondisclosure agreement. The 200-tentacled monster was protecting itself from even the hint of a threat.

It’s a crying shame that it’s that way. It’s a complete mess — and everyone knows, but nobody can fix it. It’s an organization full of smart people (presumably), but the organization is shockingly stupid.

Is your organization like that? If it is, and if you know you can’t change it, maybe it’s time you found a smarter organization where you can put your energy to work doing effective, useful, excellent things.

You may not be doing anyone a favor (including yourself) by staying with the ineffective organization that turns your smartness into stupidity.

Thanks to TomorrowToday for the tip.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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