Measures to change organizational culture fail 70% of time.
Energizing existing interests can be useful: Google created “liberate” group – people passionate about data privacy.
During her years in business school, the author collected questions. The case studies would change with time, but the questions can be applied to any future situation.
- What would we see if we were wrong?
- Who else will benefit from this decision? How?
- What else we would need to know to be confident in this decision?
- Who are the people affected by this decision?
- Who has the least power to influence it?
- how much of this decision must we make today?
- Why is this important? And what is important about that?
- If we had infinite resources – time, money, people – what would we do?
- What are all the reasons it is the right decision?
- What are the reasons it is the wrong decision?
One company had a “black book of mistakes,” including $200,000 mistake from financial officer. Each new recruit read the book. It helped not to repeat mistakes, but also made a point that everybody makes mistakes.
People are afraid to talk about mistakes – 88% of people acknowledged that they would address mistakes only in private.
Creative conflict is valuable – it polishes initial ideas.
Productive groups do not include a few super-stars of above average intelligence. High performing groups shared 3 qualities:
- they gave one another rather equal time to talk
- Group members are tuned to one another – high social sensitivity. Group members scored higher on empathy test.
- Best groups included more women (might be because of empathy aspect, or general diversity).
Can you teach empathy or do you need to hire for it?
One company used an interesting approach during budgeting cycle: every department head expleined the budget to a colleague, who presented it at the budgeting meeting for all. CTO could argue the case for Marketing, head of Sales could present Operational needs, Customer Care might explain Technology budget.
The impact: everybody had to see the company from others’ perspective. They were compelled to do the best job possible, ensuring that their counterpart would do the same. Each executive learned more empathy.
In the large organizations, this approach can be done on the level of two departments trying to understand each other.
Company’s social capital assures that people are comfortable bringing ideas forward.
How to enhance social capital:
One scientist (department head) – spent first half hour of his weekly two hour meeting for non-work conversations: birthdays, news, arts, etc. At first, it might look like this approach reduces time for science, but long term, it is more than made up with gains in productivity.
More mistakes happens in flight if flight crew is working together first time. Stable teams perform better. Shuffling roles to argue an approach within the team seem to give the best result. Even in R&D an introduction of one new person into the team over 2-3 years is considered sufficient.
Mono tasking is better not only for productivity, but also for our ability to use the information: “Distracted people can not think.”
A resort asked its employees to think about “one more thing” they can do after everything required has been done. People who did it, enjoyed doing this “one more thing” the most – it was their own task. The author is asking at the end of the book, what a small change can readers do to improve their organizational culture? Hmmm… 😉