Monday, May 22, 2006

High Performance Organization: What sucks and what rocks!

Quick list of what organizations should be doing. I am a firm believer of action. I have gained tremendous amount of [atleast I'd like to think so :0)] a sense of urgency, if you will, when it comes to getting things done from my experience at sea. Getting going with things. Moving on to the next level. Shedding skin all the time. Well you get the point, I see.

What should a typical High Performance Organization be doing and what should it stop doing right away.

Stop doing the following:

  • Prolonged meetings
  • Endless discussions
  • Brainstorm sessions
  • Planning (Strategy, Future plans whatever that falls into some category where endless hours are wasted making some drawings that die almost immediately after the first presentation)
  • Debating
  • Talking about teams and teamwork (It's really dry)
  • Stop talking about best practices (They are best for the guy who wrote for his organization's success NOT yours)
  • Standards for performance and task oriented thinking

Ok this list can go on and on. What organizations should be doing is this...
  • Identify your change activists within your organizations.
  • Install change activists across your organization (its similar to instrumenting triggers within your software code to identify, signal and eventually fix the problems while staying in the learning mode). Its like sprinkling magic dust within your organization.
  • Ask for ideas, ask just about anyone. You'll be surprised how people from different layers think sincerely about the importance of the delicate ecosystem which we so ruthlessly crush down or even worse ignore.
  • Keep asking ideas and let the information flow.
  • Install tools (including people) in order to keep your intellectual property aboard. (And not outsourcing it like the latest trend).
  • Identify your intellectual property (people).
  • Start thinking aloud and let others think aloud too (Its that loud thought that will help you rediscover your fire!).
  • Let teams form themselves (you will be amazed how smart people are drawn to each others).
  • Encourage an open and collaborative climate.
  • Use project management tools that invoke that sense of collaborative thinking. I'm using basecamp from 37signals for a virtualization project and it really rocks!
  • Standards for excellence and merit oriented thinking. Award points to successful members and keep it free for all. Let people pick their performance and run with it. They will (and yes even the amazingly lazy ones) surprise you.
  • Rely on learning. Let people prove things. Let people demonstrate the cool things they built or hacked. Help use the learning to transform from drawings to demos to deployments!
  • Do a lot of whiteboard sessions and invite people to talk and paint their visions on the whiteboard (People like drawings and people like to draw too)
  • Help develop the sense of community: Your organization in like a village and it needs to be closely knit together.
  • Let everyone write the "sucks and rocks" about your organization (No harm in biting your tongue and knowing the truth than being held at ransom by the very same disgruntled people).
  • Excite yourself and others around you. We all need a bit of that adrenaline.
These and definitely a lot more of such radical practices will help you win back those creative employees (including yourself) back. There is a lot said about "High performance Organizations" and this was my contribution to what I think will certainly help put us all back from a typical "survival mode" to a more "happy kick ass mode".

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