Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Holacracy Debate

A long time ago I read an article about Medium's company culture. The piece introduced Jason Stirman and an approach to performance management know as Holacracy. Since then the debate regarding the merits of Holacracy has gathered significant momentum. Proponents of Holacracy seem to be realistic about the time this radical change in thought technology will require to fully take shape. Opponents of Holacracy seem to underestimate the strategic relevance of the process.

To this day no one has said it better than Jason Stirman:

And as soon as Zappos jumped on to the Holacracy bandwagon the haters crawled out of their consultancies to call foul. 

There are a few truths to this system that seem to have been ignored:
  • Holacarcy is highly strategic in emphasizing/tracking individual performance objectives.
  • Holacracy ignores bureaucracy and amplifies trust.
  • Holacracy is not corporate anarchy.

In time, some iteration of Holacracy will move from idealism to the standard. Here's why:

Strength Emphasis!
The workplace is competitive. We tend to take the wins for granted and re-tool with great intensity when we lose. There is no better example than the 2004 the United States Men's Basketball team to exemplify the basis for Holacracy:

It takes diverse skill sets to win when the competition is harsh!

You cannot have an entire team of forwards and expect the other functions of the game to care for themselves. 

Organizational success is predicated upon focused individuals accepting their role in producing an overall result. Without egos or the search for individual accolades; everybody wins! Titles sustained by egos have no systematic relevance to the necessary need for organizational evolution.

... Leader Do!

There is an inarguable truth in Corporate America:

Poor Middle Managers survive at the cost of the organization losing extraordinary talent. 

It is a revolving door through which any threat to bureaucracy is removed to keep from disrupting the status quo. Mangers manage out the organizations best talent, millions of dollars are lost in production costs and the corporate politicians maintain their place on the mantle. 

The Village Doesn't Require a Court Jester!
Hire great people, give them effective tools and trust them to succeed.

There is no greater accountability than that to one's self. Transparent goal setting and candid coaching are paramount to employee success.

Leaders Develop Their Legacy and Managers Control the Present to Preserve the Past.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Are You HAPPY Yet?

Over the past several years there has been a ground swell of advising toward Happiness at work. Starting with Tony Hsieh and further by vendors and consultants alike, this movement seeks to better engage people's personal interests and infuse it in their work. Employee Engagement, Work/Life Balance and Organizational Culture are all central points of emphasis in bringing smiles to the workplace.

My father would hit an employee over the head with a chair who came into his office asking for more happiness. Steve Jobs would tell an employee to hit the bricks who said they weren't happy at Apple. Any great coach would bench a player who sought greater happiness. Very few academic institutions highlight Happy Time in their syllabus.

So the question emerges....

Is the workplace really a place to seek happiness?

As we explore further a trend emerges. Happiness may be characterized as gleeful jubilation resulting from a dopamine overdose caused by the engagement of ones heart. Instead of floor boarding the dopamine drip, organizations may want to focus less on happiness and more on achievement.

We can throw parties, send employees on trips and wear pajamas to work... but nothing will get done. At some point between meeting rock stars and knitting classes, we've got goals to achieve.

Achievement provokes courage which allows us to accelerate. In the end, we all want to do work that matters for a cause we believe in and a leader who sets the tone for the future.

Work That Matters
There are people who relish the opportunity to receive a trophy in front of a room full of their peers, others are embarrassed by such accolades. There are those who bust their ass all year long to earn a trip to an exotic island, some would prefer not to go on vacation with their co-workers.

More than trophies, trips or even cash; people want to know that their time on earth has a purpose. When we sunset our careers we won't cherish the big deal we closed or the money we made... we want to know that we've left an admirable legacy behind us. Snap reactions to achieve short term results only serve to tarnish one's legacy.

A Cause We Can Believe In
What are we doing here... what are we trying to achieve? Is it making a difference? Do people look upon us with admiration?

You don't have to be sending shoes to poor children for your work to make a difference. All you have to do is care.... for your co-workers, your customers and anyone who might witness your demeanor while wearing your company logo.

Do you care enough to stay on the phone with someone until their problem has found a solution?
Would you stay late at work to fix a problem?
Could you bring your children to work and be proud to show them what you have built?

One Person to Follow
I recall the first CEO who genuinely inspired me.... he was not a lovey-dovey person. He was driven, competitive, creative, and astoundingly fair. He appreciated the effort of his employees, was proud of us when we won and held himself personally accountable when we lost. He took the wins with a wink and spent nights awake fretting over the losses.

You don't have to be a jerk to be a great leader, much to the contrary, but happiness simply cannot always be top of mind. There is not an inherent emotion within us that calls for recognition of our every professional feat; we want to earn our accolades. We don't want to show up at an office where people are napping, we want to be in place that inspires us to be better. We don't want bosses that are going to pat our backs and tell us it will be OK... we want to work for people who get upset on our behalf when we do not achieve our goals.

We are driven by achievement! We are engaged by work that is challenging. We are motivated to conquer that which was presented to us as impossible. We want to be better than our mothers and fathers and we want our children to achieve more than we do.

It is time to wake up and take Accountability for our responsibility to achieve greatness. No one is going to perform to a higher level simply because they are happy. No one ever hung a 12th place ribbon with pride. There cannot be progress without a determination to elevate the norm. Happiness may only relate to the satisfaction with the norm.....

Create the impossible. Drive yourself to be better. Don't waste your time waiting around for someone else to determine what will make you happy.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Mentality of Invincibility

In situations of competition we search for subtle differentiators.... the small things that take us a step further. With similar skill sets in place, what differentiates a winner from one who may not deliver when the chips are down?

One Word: Mentality!

There are people who always find a way. The people I know who have developed a method for repeatable success have developed a Mentality of Invincibility!

The elements of the Mentality of Invincibility?

Ignorance of Negativity

There are a few people I know who are so positive that I have at times questioned their mental stability. They are also massively successful!

We often acquaint positivity with naivety. We see someone smiling and assume they are unaware of the tragic world around them. When someone smiles at us on the street we spring to clinch fists.

It is far more difficult to be positive than to be critical. We can accept that one may possess an intricate mind and a wide-scope view of the world but still find a way to smile.

Indeed, positivity is a sign of courage not ignorance.  

A System and A Voice

Leadership is complimented by a system to predicate success and the ability to articulate what it takes to navigate said system.

If you have a dream but no strategy you are pissing in the wind.

If you cannot explain the positive impact participating will have on my life... I will not try!


People are allowed to try and fail as long as they have learned through the process. Learn from your mistakes or try something completely different and change the game.

To be a leader you must secure the trust of those who's followership you require. Trust is earned through having a system, the ability to explain your vision and a tireless work ethic for others to emulate.

Each day is an opportunity to change the lives of those with whom you interact. We seldom work to capture such moments.

People come looking for something to believe in. Who is going to step out and create it?

You've got the same tools as everyone else. You may just have to have a greater belief in your unique invincibility.

Don't Forget to Remember!