06 Apr 1997

Social system

Here is a relevant interview by Fast Company magazine with Hatim Tyabji of VeriFone.

Fast Company: People look to VeriFone as a model of global competition and the “virtual” organization. Yet you worry that they draw the wrong lessons. What don't they understand?

Hatim Tyabji: Much of the stuff that has been written focuses on the form — e-mail, information systems — and not on the substance. The true power of running a company, the true power of growing any enterprise, is 5% technology and 95% psychology. With all this technology, you run the risk of becoming a robot. Leadership is not robotics. Leadership is human. Leadership is looking people in the eye, pumping the flesh, getting them excited, caring about their families.

It's so easy to worship technology or to blame technology for problems that are human in nature: “Our e-mail system isn't good enough.” Bullshit! The e-mail system has nothing to do with anything. Companies have this funny idea — they forget that human beings are human beings.


Fast Company: What you're saying is that e-mail is not just an information system, it's a social system. It transmits the values of the company.

Hatim Tyabji: Exactly! Not many people think of it that way, but that's exactly what it is. I resonate with that big time.