A bunch of interesting points here:
Denning points out that it is not technology or a new management “theory” that allows them to pull it off:
Vinci’s Energy Division for instance has some 75,000 workers in 50 countries and annual revenues of $13 billion. This division is split into 1,600 business units. Yet the Vinci head office is just 50 persons, and it hasn’t grown over the years, even as the business itself has quadrupled in size. “Decentralized management,” Huillard said, “is the only way to grow without becoming fat and strangled by increasing processes."
This reminds me of something the great advertising man Bill Bernbach used to say:
People are “pulled” by culture and values, not “pushed” by process and procedures.
The role of Vinci’s management is to have the courage to stick to these principles at a time when markets are shaky and external forces are pushing the firm to recentralize and optimize. Sticking to the principles is particularly important in tough times.
I would argue that when it comes to culture and strategy NOTHING matters except management’s behavior when risks are high and pressure is increasing. Everything else is just empty speeches and hollow gestures.
A principle is not a principle until it costs you money.
See, for example, Admirals Halsey and Nimitz: