For years you have been hearing that you work for a leading-world-class organization but somehow that statement doesn’t resonate with you. How can you tell if you are truly working for an innovative and caring organization? Find out if the slogan “Our people are our #1 asset” is meaningless in your organization by looking at the 6 ways to know if you are working for an archaic organization.
1. Do you work for a democracy?
Does your organization believe the authoritarian power of a single ruler is better than collective intelligence?
Many have demonstrated that collective intelligence delivers better results than relying on the knowledge of a few (The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations).
As imperfect as it is, we trust democracy to select the people who will lead our countries, vote laws, decide to go to war (or not), and determine taxation level – among other things. When it comes to business, organizations typically prefer to give complete authority to a single person who will ultimately decide what is good (or not) for the organization.
Why can’t organizations adopt a more decentralized management approach?
2. Is your organization at war with its competitors?
Does your organization think of competitors as enemies and use war related terms and strategies in an attempt to eliminate them?
The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual has a great chapter on the analogy between business and war and the attitude your organization has towards competition is a good indication of how innovative it is.
Has your organization ever thought of cooperating with competition to increase the overall size of the market instead of competing for portions of a smaller market?
3. Does your organization force its employee to follow rigid rules to get things done?
Does your organization believe access to resources should follow a well defined sequential process with gatekeepers along the way?
Remember the days of video cassettes? To access a specific scene in the movie, you would need to forward to it forcing you to painfully have to watch all the content before getting to your end goal. Then came the DVD where you can now jump directly to the scene of your choice without having to follow the defined sequence.
Many organizations are still like old video cassettes and have implemented structure, rules, and processes to control access to resources and decision making authority. They are controlling their operations. By comparison, look at organizations that empower their employees to make the best decisions and allow them to get to their end goal as fast as possible.
Which model do you think will allow the organization to prosper?
4. Are fortresses built within your organization?
Does your organization allow people to build a fortress around them to reduce threats from other employees?
Closed offices and controlling assistants are obvious ways to protect against other people. In some cases, managers are clever and typically hire weak employees so they are not threatened in their role. Others are trained politicians who have learned to look good in front of senior management but are bullying their colleagues and employees.
Shouldn’t organizations ensure that the leaders are confident individuals who are not afraid to take risks and sometimes fail in order to move the organization in the right direction?
5. Is slavery still permitted when it comes to resource management?
Does your organizations assign resources to projects and departments as if they were disposable resources?
In the information age, people are required in order to deliver value-added knowledge. Unfortunately, many organizations still dispatch individuals as if they were lifeless (and emotionless) objects to projects that are doomed from the start. There are some beliefs that with the proper pressures, people can work endless hours to make up for un-realistic deadlines and still deliver quality outputs.
Why not threat individuals as competent and knowledgeable contributors to the success of their assignement instead of believing they should simply execute order to achieve the required goal?
6. Are employees threated as if they were back in grad school?
Does your organizations believe it is fair to receive performance evaluation by a single individual?
Many organizations still rely on the manager to obtain feedback and communicate it to employees. Unfortunately, many people have not been trained to seek proper feedback let alone communicating it. Some organizations have started to implement 360 degrees feedback and as such the content is much more helpful to the individuals.
Why not gather feedback from various sources and have a trained communicator provide the feedback to the employees so they can actually learn and improve based on the information provided?
There are many ways to lead an organization. Not challenging some of the existing practices is the best way for an organization to have the same faith as the dinosaurs…