What is it most of us really want from work? We would like to find the most effective, most productive, most rewarding way of working together. We would like to know that our work process uses all of the appropriate and pertinent resources: human, physical, financial. We would like a work process and relationships that meet our personal needs for belonging, for contributing, for meaningful work, for the opportunity to make a commitment, for the opportunity to grow and be at least reasonably in control of our own destinies. Finally, we’d like someone to say ‘Thank you!’
— Max De Pree, From Leadership is an Art
February 12, 2010 at 6:30pm
You ask your associates ‘Where do you want to go?’ And They say, ‘To the Emerald City.’ So you don’t tell them, ‘Follow the yellow brick road,’ the road your knowledges dictates is the right one. You don’t because all they will say is, ‘You’re crazy. We’re going off through the woods.’ So you take your bricks and go with them, and throw them one by one in front of them—not giving the answer, but ideas, information, letting them find their own answers. And with every new brick they step on, your credibility goes up. I had no credibility, but little by little each of those bricks brought my credibility up.
— Les Lewis, manufacturing leader at W.L. Gore. From Freedom, Inc.
February 11, 2010 at 11:06pm
The aim of Management 2.0 is to make every organization as genuinely human as the people who work there. People are adaptable: Every day, thousands of individuals cross continents to take on new jobs, go back to school to acquire new skills, start fresh careers in midlife, or navigate their way through family crises. People are innovative: Every day, there are millions who post new blog entries, invent new recipes, write poems, or redecorate their homes. People are community minded: Think of all the folks you know who volunteer at their kids’ schools, help at local hospitals, coach junior-league sports teams, or do the shopping for housebound neighbors. Tragically, the technology of management frequently drains organizations of the very qualities that make us human: our vitality, ingenuity, and sense of kinship. What companies once regarded as merely a moral imperative—creating organizations that are genuinely human—has become an inescapable business imperative.
This is an excellent lecture Terri Kelly (CEO of W.L. Gore) gave at MIT in December of 2008. The topic is Gore’s culture and how it drives innovation.
February 4, 2010 at 9:08pm
I’m part of another startup and loving it! The company is CityVoice, and right now we’re twenty strong.
I’m very proud of what we accomplished at Rackspace and like to think I played an important part. (I was employee 13, and they still call me the “Father of Fanatical Support.”) I’m determined to take everything I learned during my 8+ years there and contribute even more here.
Over the last two weeks I’ve been thinking quite a bit about our values. What do we want CityVoice to stand for? And what do we need to put in place to reinforce those values? Like structure. I just finished reading Freedom, Inc. by Brian Carney and Isaac Getz. Best business book I’ve read in at least 5 years! One of the companies profiled in the book is W. L. Gore & Associates. Fascinating company! Brilliant structure. Here’s an excerpt from an HBR article I found:
Could you build a company with no hierarchy—where everyone was free to talk with everyone else? How about a company where there were no bosses, no supervisors, and no vice presidents? Could you let people choose what they wanted to work on, rather than assigning them tasks? … And could you do all of this while still delivering consistent growth and profitability? In each case, the answer turned out to be “yes” …
Food for thought. At Rackspace we used to talk a great deal about “freeing the Fanatics.” We’re trying to do the same thing at CityVoice: hire talented, creative, energetic people who are completely committed to our cause (our clients), and then give them all the resources, support, and freedom they need to dazzle those clients.