Smart simplicity: in a previous post, I have discussed that developing mindful leaders starts with everyone, especially now that we are moving towards flat and node-based organizations. Here's another interesting find today: stop trying to make people happy. See, in my past 20 years in Silicon Valley, I have been in awe at the the variety of creative ways used by HR departments to reward employees: ranging from ice cream fridays to pizza, sometimes Togo's, I have always been wondering what grown adults really, really think when they are offered ice cream to reward them for a "job beyond the call" and supposedly to make them happy. -By Philippe Mora (@philippemora)
San Francisco, Good Friday XIV - Smart simplicity is actually very ... simple. By letting go of pyramidal organizational structures (and to not fall into the fashionable holacracy trap), and moving towards flat node- and commitment-based lattice structures, companies have a real opportunity to simplify and really make people happy. Besides ice creams and unhealthy sandwiches, I'd like to offer something even more simple: empowerment and trust, strengthened by commitment. This works quite well in the NFL and Hollywood, how about we start to implement this starting by Creative and Knowledge Workers ?
Whether you’ve heard of them or not, two gurus from the early 20th century still dominate management thinking and practice — to our detriment. It has been more than 100 years since Frederick Taylor, an American engineer working in the steel business, published his seminal work onthe principles of scientific management. And it has been more than 80 years ago since Elton Mayo, an Australian-born Harvard academic, produced his pioneering studies on human relations in the workplace. Yet managers continue to follow Taylor’s “hard” approach — creating new structures, processes, and systems — when they need to address a management challenge. Hence, the introduction of, say, a risk management team or a compliance unit or an innovation czar. And when managers need to boost morale and get people to work better together, they still follow Mayo’s “soft” approach — launching people initiatives such as off-site retreats, affiliation events or even lunchtime yoga classes. If these approaches made sense in the first half of the twentieth century (and that’s open to question), they make no sense today. Indeed, if anything, their continued use is making things worse.
We are living in an age of mounting complexity. By our calculation, companies are operating in a competitive environment that is six times more complex than it was in 1955, when the Fortune 500 was launched. For the best companies, this complex world is an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage over their rivals. But, for too many companies saddled with approaches to management that are outdated and ineffectual, it presents a seemingly insurmountable challenge.
As they have responded to each new challenge, managers (as Taylor recommended) have introduced new structures, processes and systems. When this happens year after year, there is a damaging accretion of structural fixes — we estimate that the number of these has grown by a factor of thirty-five over the past 55 years. The consequence is what we call “complicatedness,” which spells trouble for a company’s productivity and leads employees to feel frustrated and to disengage. In the most complicated 20% of companies, employees spend large chunks of time on aimless activities that do not add value: For instance, writing reports or participating in internal meetings that have no impact.
There is, however, an alternative, a third way — one we call “Smart Simplicity.” We’ve developed this approach over the past 30 years of working with 500 companies in more than 40 countries around the world, and we introduce it in a new book called Six Simple Rules. With “Smart Simplicity,” we put the cooperating individual at the heart of the modern organization. Where the Taylor school implicitly distrusts the individual worker and designs structural fixes for controlling their actions in a top-down, rigid, micro-managing way — albeit ameliorated by the softening effects of the people initiatives propounded by the Mayo school — we promote a radically different approach.
Simply put, companies are most productive when they harness — not hobble — the intelligence of their employees. Six simple rules help managers get beyond the shackles of the “hard” and “soft” management approaches we’ve inherited from our forefathers:
[Read More Here > Thank You HBR 04/03/14]
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