I missed the point …

Papal election result

For years my dear wife is telling me some businesses (companies, government agencies, etc) are just covering their butts. They are not interested in the well being of their staff, customers or populace. In fact they have been taught not to make mistakes. The same time I have been arguing the opposite being true for the majority. There are plenty of examples where innovation, technical or medical break throughs etc take place; there are managers and business owners who have the best interest of their people at heart.

Having worked now in the private and public sector I have changed my mind. It is sad but true, many people work to uphold the rules and regulations. You can call it standards, operating procedures, or even culture “that’s how we do tings around here”. The focus is on compliance, policing and governance.

We are missing what we have set out to do, for example:

  • service to the community or our customer base
  • providing solutions and results for the customer
  • develop and build tools / systems that last and do the job well
  • make and distribute healthy food

The common cause is often cited as the growth syndrom:

  • making money
  • gaining power
  • becoming famous

BUT, is that really the case?

How many dads or mums simply want to provide for their children to have it better (education, house, job, ..)?
How many of us simply would like to go on with their business without thinking about mortgage, tax, bills, regulations, … ?

Albert Camus once said, freedom is the freedom of others.

It took me long time to understand. My freedom to do what I want is impacting on the freedom of my neighbour. And here our governance approach started. Instead of common sense prevailing we rely on some authority who tells us what we can or can’t do. And while they are at it, they make it a rule and apply it across the country so a single instance is solved for eternity.

What a load of rubbish!

In Germany it takes months for some decisions to be made because so many committees and sub committees have a say and need to review all the rules, regulations and bylaws. In New Zealand we are getting closer by the minute to the same situation. The recent “super city” is a great example. And I don’t mention the stalemate in the US where some egocentrics in both big parties blame each other rather than sit together at a table and don’t get up until the issue is solved. The election method of the pope is a better example how to do it right.

None of this means the people working in such organisations are bad, stupid or ignorant. No, most are intelligent, focused and trying their best. But they have been taught – like all of us – in an institution called school that rules and regulations and compliance is what drives this world and keeps the order. Challenging the status quo is hard and in school we have been taught not to do so.

Asking questions in school is a sign of ?

(a) intelligence (because you actually thought about it and didn’t come to the same conclusion)

(b) lack of intelligence (because you should know this [by now] and probably haven’t paid attention)

 

Ask your children. Then wonder why I wrote this post and comment below or use the answer and go back to the start.

Ask the “why” question and find out the reason behind a process, rule or regulation.

Don’t get me wrong, some are necessary, some are good, and some (most ?) are covering exceptions. Those are the ones slowing us down. Shouldn’t we go back to “Use good judgement?”

Business growth = Fire your Managers!

Essence of SuccessThe idea stems from an article on Linkedin, written by Ilya Pozin. Essentially he says,

eliminating established hierarchy (that is multiple levels of top-down management) frees people from working for their boss to working for the company goals.

Ilya goes on and describes a set very practical approaches and steps. His achievement is a company

  • people loved working for
  • enjoyed reduced costs
  • increased customer satisfaction and
  • improved quality of work

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Learn to Defy

learn to defyIn my leisure time I’m reading Fantasy and SciFi. Lately I read “Soldier Son” by Robin Hobb. The story evolves around the growing up and education of one son. He is to become a soldier, too – and officer to be precise. From young age he learns to obey and tries hard to do everything right for his father. One day his father decides to give his son to a former enemy for further training. That man makes the son promise to obey his orders. That is hard for the son but he follows as being told. When he is faced with a life threatening situation he finally breaks the promise and makes a decision (other than to follow and obey) on his own. Later the father explains to the mother why he did this. He was concerned his son would never stand on his own feet and would not become a leader.

His words were, “you need to learn to follow orders before you can command others because you must understand the consequences to those who believe in your leadership. “

This is a powerful parable. The question is, is it right?

Just a few days ago I came across a job description for an executive role. There was nothing special about it, it talked about strategy, planning, and operational management. And the interesting part came in the skills and competency section:

“Ensures decisions – own and organisational ones – are being actioned without hesitation.”

This sounded like military to me. And I asked myself, at what stage is the following of orders right and necessary and when is it wrong and dangerous?

This is a good reminder to look at the ethics and values of an organisation. Its adherence to rules, regulations, the law and its moral culture. Doing the right thing is very important to me. A decision that implies action which will undermine the ethics and values should be questioned. One of my mentors told me, the first question you ask when you join a team “Will we cheat?”. This tells you a lot about the team and provides you with a clear idea what to expect.

Your comments are as always welcome.

 

Gartner ITxpo Gold Coast

nexus of forcesDuring the past 4 days I attended the annual biggest Gartner conference ITxpo.

I haven’t been here for a number of years and was really looking forward to it. My program was not aligned to any of the pre-defined streams and had a good selection of mobile, big data, business intelligence, cloud and enterprise architecture with a sprinkle of leadership and management aspects.

Gartner always has multiple sessions in parallel and I find it difficult to choose at times. Nonetheless I was happy with my schedule that looked ram-packed with exciting stuff.

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House rules

Recently I came across a sticker called “We are family wall decor”. It was a simple poster showing a few call out elements. I loved that.

I loved it because they were “do this” things and “we do this” statements. They were positive and encouraging.  I translated them for a business (team) context:

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Balancing Needs

as a leader I always have to consider a number of different aspects before or when making a decision. Even planning falls into that category. I like to call this

Balancing Needs

simply because it’s like the person crossing the chasm on a rope. There is the environment: the wind is blowing, it’s drizzling, and the temperature sits at comfortable 17 degree Celsius. The objective is to get across the 15 meter gap within 30 minutes and to entertain the audience! The risk is falling into the water and being laughed at. Probably missing the cut for the next engagement. There are also 3 other artists who have a similar show to present.

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Leading Cross Functional teams

I just read an article about the treats of different cultures. Funnily enough this comes as Adam commented on one of my blog posts from an English / French perspective and I’m – a native German – living in New Zealand. The big thing about this article was the following table (taken from Richard D. Lewis’ book “When Cultures Collide”)

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