Smart Simplicity-6 Rules For Over-Complicated Organizations

Six Simple Rules, Yves Morieux, complexity, managementYves Morieux has an intriguing idea….6 simple rules for managing complex organizations. Morieux is a senior partner and managing director in the Boston Consulting Group and so has studied organizations and how they stumble. In his TED talk, he explains that it all started with a question regarding why productivity levels are disappointing and workers are so disengaged. Morieux points out that these conditions persist despite all the programs, events and training that is provided to employees at all levels of the organization.

Some background information

According to Morieux, there are “two pillars of management” and they are obsolete.

  • Hard: structure, process, systems, matrices
  • Soft: feelings, interpersonal relationships, traits

Morieux explains that the more complexity a business encounters, the more it creates “complicatedness in the organization.” Simply put, a new “rule”  or requirement is encountered in the business environment adding to the existing complexity. The organization responds by creating a new person who then creates a new system. Thus, everyone is more removed from see how the organization might respond more effectively in the future.

 “Cooperation”

The answer put forth by Morieux is that people within organizations should cooperate more. In a 2011 Harvard Business Review article, he wrote,…

it entails creating an environment in which employees can work with one another to develop creative solutions to complex challenges. This approach leads to organizations that ably address numerous fluid and contradictory requirements without structural and procedural complicatedness.

To reduce or eliminate disengagement, there must be more cooperation

Morieux states that the hard approach (adding more matrices, systems and employees to respond to changes) creates more problems than it solves. He also places a greater emphasis on why the soft approach to management fails to engage workers. He states the “more we like each other, the more we avoid cooperation” so we don’t have to deal with uncomfortable “trade-offs.” These trade-offs might be having one set of resources rather than duplicate resources, requiring different sections of the organization to swap personnel and tolerating poor performance or mistakes.

 6 Simple Rules

Morieux derived these rules from game theory and organizational sociology. He advocates that we stop over-complicating our companies and still respond skillfully to the complex business environment.

  1. Understand what others do – Take the time to find out what is the real work, not the job description
  2. Reinforce integrators – Give managers (these are the integrators) discretionary power and interest to make others cooperate
  3. Increase total quantity of power – Empower everyone to use their judgement, intelligence and skills
  4. Extend the shadow of the future – Create a feedback loop for people to directly experience the consequences of their actions; how my real work affects customers and the company
  5. Increase reciprocity by removing buffers of self-sufficiency – Eliminate systems and processes that support and maintain silos
  6. Reward those who cooperate and blame those who don’t – Morieux quotes Jorgen Vig Knudstorp of The Lego Group as saying blame is for failing to help or for not asking for help; not for failing

Using these rules will reduce creating redundant systems which prevent cross-disciplinary communication and positive effect both financial and human resource policies. Basically, these rules create improved performance, more work satisfaction and lower costs.

Are these rules that different than in other management theories?

Much of what goes on in today’s organizations seems to echo an early 20th century management philosophy put forth by F.W. Taylor (and even has been revived as neo-Taylorism) We may have gussied up the terms but there is still a pervasive idea that workers are supposed to be the “best and the brightest,” fit into a mold, stick with linear processes and systems and be motivated by reward and punishment (there is more in this fascinating critique of Taylorism and neo-Taylorism). Morieux’ simple rules seem to step away from Taylorism in any form and offer a different way of viewing both management, development and management of systems and how employees both interact and perform.

In past discussions, Morieux has acknowledged that pieces of the rules resemble Six Sigma, Lean and other management theories. It certainly seems like it could incorporate the concept of kaizen (continuous and incremental improvement). Curiously, he has not gotten more specific about what type of leader or management style would complement his rules.

What do you think about these rules? A new way of thinking? A rehash of current ideas? Join us this Friday, January 31, 2014 on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz, at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT and share your thoughts and insights. 

Would  you say that today’s larger organizations are complex or over-complicated? Why?

As you read through the Morieux’ rules, what did you find most intriguing?

How practical are these rules in the day-to-day operation?

Although Morieux claims the 2 pillars of managment are obsolete, how do his rules use them?

What management style would best support execution of these rules?

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Are We Too Cowardly Or Too Nice To Give Negative Feedback?

negative feedback, corrective feedback, managersYou have probably heard or witnessed colleagues who don’t seem to meet deadlines or are just unpleasant to work with. They might complain about how bad the company is, often have a reason why they just couldn’t get the job done, spend more time doing personal stuff than working, engage in bullying or a variety of other obnoxious behaviours.  On the other hand, sometimes a person just underperforms. This can be due to personal distractions, a lack of understanding, workload overwhelm, a skill mismatch.or some other issue.

Things do need to be said

Performance reviews are often when feedback, positive and negative, are expressed. While this seems like a logical time to discuss an employee’s performance, it might be too late to be of real help. As Josh Leibner writes in Entrepreneur.com, “being direct and open should originate from a desire to improve each other and the organization as a whole.”

We say we want to hear how to improve

Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman have been collecting responses from 889 individuals (49% from US and 51% from outside the US) who report they do want to hear negative feedback. Interestingly, they have not used the term “negative feedback” in the work but are using “corrective feedback.” They define this as “suggestions for improvement, explorations of new and better ways to do things, or pointing out something that was done in a less that optimal way.” Some of their other findings include:
  • People prefer to avoid giving negative feedback
  • 52% preferred corrective feedback
  • 72% reported that their performance would improve if their managers provided corrective feedback
  • 92% agreed “Negative (redirecting) feedback, if delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance.”

That seems like a good practice so what gets in the way?

Many organizations use some sort of warning or disciplinary system when employees are underperforming. Despite this, many managers are not getting the job done adequately. This leaves the potential for dishonesty, nice-ness or cowardice to limit or even eliminate the conversations entirely.

Cowardice

Accusing someone of cowardice seems old-fashioned but we still think in those terms more often than you may imagine. When we talk about someone having the guts to do something or “man up,” we are talking about avoiding cowardice.. Yet, certain scenarios happen everyday in which managers do not provide negative or corrective feedback.
  • Employee X should already know what to do, even with little to no direction or resources
  • Firing and hiring are a hassle
  • Employee X might get defensive or emotional
  • The work is getting done so no need to make waves

Nice-ness

Some managers want to be liked by their employees more than making sure the work gets done. With all of the leadership thought recently about being more empathetic and relational, it may be tempting to not tell a struggling employee they are underperforming. Some possible signs of this are:

  • Employee X is having personal issues and I don’t want to burden him/her
  • Employee X is still new so he/she will learn
  • I don’t want to ruin his/her career
  • I don’t want to hurt Employee X’s feelings

Whether the situation is a mistake or a downward pattern, managers demonstrate how a bad performance is tolerated or rectified. Looking to be liked more than encouraging and facilitating that everyone gets the work done is going to backfire.

People don’t always perform well

It happens and it is uncomfortable to tell someone that he/she is performing poorly. It raises fears about job security and the sense of belonging in the workplace. Are we more invested in being too nice or too cowardly rather than helping someone improve? Join us on Friday, January 24, 2014 on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT

Who is most responsible for giving negative feedback in the workplace?

How does reframing “negative feedback” into positive feedback or corrective feedback enable others to listen?

How does reframing “negative feedback” into a positive dilute it?

How can we avoid being too “nice” or too “cowardly” when giving negative feedback?

How could working with a diverse team or across cultures affect how negative feedback is delivered?

About the author:  Elli St.George Godfrey, founder of Ability Success Growth, executive coach and international expansion consultant, is the host of KaizenBiz. I’m passionate about business becoming a more human-centered place so I host this chat to connect business ideas and develop people.This passion shows up in my work with my clients. Whether you are expanding locally or internationally, Ability Success Growth guides established small to mid-sized business owners and executives to unlock the CEO within during times of transition and growth.

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Transparency Is More Than a Policy; It’s a Value

Transparency, value, businessIn the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz, we often take a look at ideas that have become the idée du jour. Transparency has been gaining steam for the last couple of years due to the influence of social platforms.It is so easy for information to get out publicly about nearly everything and everyone. But transparency seems to be more than simply a way for a business or organization to appear ethical and engaging. There is a quality to it that makes it akin to a value, much like honesty or freedom. With this lens, it is deeper than a set of policies or even a practice.

Please join us Friday, January 17, at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT for the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz as we discuss “Goal Setting.” Not sure how to participate? Please click here for tips and advice.

Beyond good ethics

In a recent post on Entrepreneur.com, Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market is quoted as saying, “customers want transparency.” (Whole Foods Market is a grocery store that focuses on organic, sustainable and ethical food and health products). For a company like Whole Foods Market, transparency can be a selling point for customers. This goes beyond simply ethics as companies have to pay attention to revenue and profits. When a company appears consistent in its behavior and message, customers want to do business with it.

Support for being more than ethics

Transparency has to be more than being an open book. Customers want to know that their information is protected. In “Privacy in the Age of Transparency,” Jeffrey Rothfeder writes, “the companies that are open and honest in their communications, adopt privacy policies, and are very clear about how they use collected data discreetly to further corporate growth, efficiency, and performance will benefit from wider consumer acceptance in international markets. This…is what leads to increased revenue, less litigation from the aggrieved, enhanced reputations for their brands, and more prospective partners willing to enter into lucrative cooperative ventures that require a deep well of trust.”

But it isn’t just consumers who are wary…

In a 2013 study by Tiny Pulse, it was noted that employees are have higher happiness levels with greater levels of management transparency. This points to organizational culture requiring real adherence to the stated mission, values and management practices. This includes managers clearly stating expectations and duties of employees, there are abundant conversations about the company’s mission and values and even day to day interactions support the authenticity and commitment to transparency.

Combination of relationships with consumers and employees

The digital age has made it easier for people find all kinds of information. Glen Llopis writes that “We are all living during a time when people want and expect their leaders to be more human, less perfect and at times a bit vulnerable – regardless of hierarchy or rank.” This affects both the way a business conducts itself which, as you know, is actually people. Consumers and employees want their companies to be transparent. This requires the people of the company to not view transparency as a policy but as a way of being; the same way we live by our other values.

What do you think? Has transparency become a value? Join us Friday, January 17, 2014 on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT

What benefits do you see when a company embraces policy of transparency?

How does transparency get articulated as part of a value system?

Can “true transparency” ever be a realistic objective or are there acceptable limits?

When does transparency go too far for a business?

What types of behaviors demonstrate transparency?

About the author:  Elli St.George Godfrey, founder of Ability Success Growth, executive coach, trainer and international expansion consultant, is the host of KaizenBiz. I’m passionate about business becoming a more human-centered place so I host this chat to connect business ideas and develop people.This passion shows up in my work with my clients. Whether you are expanding locally or internationally, Ability Success Growth guides established small to mid-sized business owners and executives to unlock the CEO within during times of transition and growth.

 

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Goal Setting, Goal Achievement and the Influence of Emotions

The curious thing about goals is that they are both easy and hard to set. On one hand, you goals, goal setting, goal achievement, emotionsknow you want something more, different, better or inspirational. On the other hand, there is the day-in, day-out dedication that sometimes seems to bear little fruit or seems futile in the face of obstacles. Emotions do play a role in what goals we set and what motivates us to achieve them.

Please join us Friday, January 10, at 5pm BST/12pm ET/9am PT for the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz as we discuss “Goal Setting.” Not sure how to participate? Please click here for tips and advice.

Quick review of popular models

Anyone who has spent any time with goal setting is probably familiar with the SMART model. This goal model was first mentioned by George T. Doran in 1981 so it has been around for some time. If you need a quick refresher:

S: specific

M: measurable

A: attainable

R: relevant

T: time-bound

In 2010, another model was presented by Mark Murphy in his book, HARD Goals: The Secret to Getting From Where You Are to Where You Want To Be. Murphy contends that people don’t succeed with their goals because most goal setting systems lack an emotional component which brings investment and commitment. In his model, the elements include:

Heartfelt:  purpose, meaning and emotional investment

Animated: spark imagination and images of what the goal looks like

Required: there is a need to meet the goal

Difficult: brings you out of your comfort zone and requires significant effort

Do you remember when all goals were supposed to be BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals)? Murphy’s model and Jim Collins’ model both invoke an emotional aspect. In each model, there is the underlying question of “what is most important to you and why?.”

Meanwhile, another conversation is going on at the same time

Jim Clear writes in Forget Setting Goals. Focus On This Instead. that goals are messages to ourselves that we are “not good enough”. There may be something to this as people are much more attuned to problems. Goals often focus on how we want to improve, increase or decrease something. This unspoken negative message, according to Clear, reduces our happiness and sets up an “if…then” emotional context for us. As in, “if I had 10% more revenue, then I would be happy with my business.”

But what if the underlying conversation isn’t really about how bad we are?

The underlying conversation in goal setting is often one of values. When you sit down with a strategic plan for your business or a self-development plan for yourself, you are identifying what is most important to you. There may be a value around wealth, power, community, intellectual challenge, competition, health and so much more that you are really trying to manifest in your behavior. The goal is the vehicle for this value and bringing us closer to our own internal alignment.

Goal setting is not goal achievement

It is a fairly straight forward process to set a goal. You identify what you want to be different and that’s it. The goal is probably more clear when it  includes specificity and a time frame. After all, saying you want more customers is a goal but saying you want 15% more customers in 3 months makes that goal much easier to focus your efforts and monitor progress.

Regardless of what model you use when setting a goal, it is really about the work of the goal that brings positive or negative experiences. It is often overlooked that goal setting is really a plan for change and change is uncomfortable. Even if you are someone who seeks new experiences and tolerates change well, there are moments when you realize you don’t know what you are doing or it is more involved than you expected. This moment of tension can slow or interrupt progress.

But it isn’t all about managing your response to crises. Many goals include new ways of behaving which essentially creates new habits. As Art Markman (past guest on #KaizenBiz) reminds us, our brains have preferred pathways that use less energy so we have to “fight our brains” to do new things. This includes our assumptions and cognitive biases. Ways of thinking can be just as much a habit as ways of behaving. The challenge here would be noticing emotional responses like “ugh…I’m too busy to do X today” and noting what thinking pattern is accompanying this. It cannot be denied that people are far more likely to set and achieve a goal that has a deeper meaning and purpose to it. This level of emotional investment could even provide a buffer for any difficulties we might encounter. Perhaps emotions are a tool for successful goal setting and achievement

What do you think? Does the emotional quality of our goals inspire us to achieve? Join us Friday, January 10, 2014 for our annual Goal Setting discussion on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT

What did you achieve in 2013?

What makes one goal more engaging than another?

What role does emotion play in goal setting?

What messages do we send ourselves when we choose certain goals?

How necessary is it to have a system or a process  to maintain focus and/or motivation for goal achievement?

To what degree do you believe that goals must invoke an emotional response to facilitate achievement?

About the author:  Elli St.George Godfrey, founder of Ability Success Growth, small business coach and executive coach, is the host of KaizenBiz. I’m passionate about business becoming a more human-centered place so I host this chat to connect business ideas and develop people.This passion shows up in my work with my clients. Whether you are expanding locally or internationally, Ability Success Growth guides established small to mid-sized business owners and executives to unlock the CEO within during times of transition and growth.

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