A Simple Path to The Good Life: Discovering The Inner Bottom Line

A Simple Path to The Good Life: Discovering The Inner Bottom Line
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There is nothing inherently inconsistent about a culture that is both collaborative and accountability-focused. Committees might review decisions or teams might provide input, but at the end of the day, specific individuals are charged with making critical design choices—deciding which features go and stay, which suppliers to use, which channel strategy makes most sense, which marketing plan is best, and so on. Pixar has created several ways to provide feedback to its movie directors, but as Ed Catmull, its cofounder and president, describes in his book Creativity, Inc.

Accountability and collaboration can be complementary, and accountability can drive collaboration. Consider an organization where you personally will be held accountable for specific decisions. There is no hiding. You own the decisions you make, for better or worse. The last thing you would do is shut yourself off from feedback or from enlisting the cooperation and collaboration of people inside and outside the organization who can help you. A good example of how accountability can drive collaborative behavior is Amazon. For Jassy, collaboration was essential to the success of a program for which he was personally accountable.

Leaders can encourage accountability by publicly holding themselves accountable, even when that creates personal risks. This stops with me. An organizational chart gives you a pretty good idea of the structural flatness of a company but reveals little about its cultural flatness—how people behave and interact regardless of official position. In culturally flat organizations, people are given wide latitude to take actions, make decisions, and voice their opinions.

Deference is granted on the basis of competence, not title. Culturally flat organizations can typically respond more quickly to rapidly changing circumstances because decision making is decentralized and closer to the sources of relevant information. They tend to generate a richer diversity of ideas than hierarchical ones, because they tap the knowledge, expertise, and perspectives of a broader community of contributors.

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Olive Gallagher, syndicated columnist of "The Inner Bottom Line," is a pioneer in ethics and personal accountability. She was the creator, producer and host of. A Simple Path to the Good Life book. Read reviews from world's largest community for readers. There is a place inside each of us where we dwell. A place.

Lack of hierarchy, though, does not mean lack of leadership. Paradoxically, flat organizations require stronger leadership than hierarchical ones. Flat organizations often devolve into chaos when leadership fails to set clear strategic priorities and directions. Amazon and Google are very flat organizations in which decision making and accountability are pushed down and employees at all levels enjoy a high degree of autonomy to pursue innovative ideas.

Yet both companies have incredibly strong and visionary leaders who communicate goals and articulate key principles about how their respective organizations should operate. Here again, the balance between flatness and strong leadership requires a deft hand by management. Flatness does not mean that senior leaders distance themselves from operational details or projects.

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In fact, flatness allows leaders to be closer to the action. First, I flattened the organization. I had to reduce the distance between me and the people making decisions. At both Fiat and Chrysler, Marchionne moved his office to the engineering floor so that he could be closer to product planning and development programs. He was famous both for being detail oriented and for pushing decision making down to lower levels in the organization.

With so many direct reports, it was nearly impossible for him not to! Getting the balance right between flatness and strong leadership is hard on top management and on employees throughout the organization. For senior leaders, it requires the capacity to articulate compelling visions and strategies big-picture stuff while simultaneously being adept and competent with technical and operational issues.

Steve Jobs was a great example of a leader with this capacity. He laid out strong visions for Apple while being maniacally focused on technical and design issues. For employees, flatness requires them to develop their own strong leadership capacities and be comfortable with taking action and being accountable for their decisions. All cultural changes are difficult.

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Organizational cultures are like social contracts specifying the rules of membership. When leaders set out to change the culture of an organization, they are in a sense breaking a social contract. It should not be surprising, then, that many people inside an organization—particularly those thriving under the existing rules—resist.

Leading the journey of building and sustaining an innovative culture is particularly difficult, for three reasons. First, because innovative cultures require a combination of seemingly contradictory behaviors, they risk creating confusion. A major project fails. Should we celebrate? Should the leader of that program be held accountable? The answer to these questions depends on the circumstances.

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Was the failure preventable? Were issues known in advance that could have led to different choices? Were team members transparent?

Was there valuable learning from the experience? And so on. Second, while certain behaviors required for innovative cultures are relatively easy to embrace, others will be less palatable for some in the organization. Some people will adapt readily to the new rules—a few may even surprise you—but others will not thrive. Third, because innovative cultures are systems of interdependent behaviors, they cannot be implemented in a piecemeal fashion. Think about how the behaviors complement and reinforce one another.

Disciplined experimentation will cost less and yield more useful information—so, again, tolerance for failed experiments becomes prudent rather than shortsighted. Accountability makes it much easier to be flat—and flat organizations create a rapid flow of information, which leads to faster, smarter decision making.

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Beyond the usual things that leaders can do to drive cultural change articulate and communicate values, model target behaviors, and so on , building an innovative culture requires some specific actions. First, leaders must be very transparent with the organization about the harder realities of innovative cultures. These cultures are not all fun and games. Many people will be excited about the prospects of having more freedom to experiment, fail, collaborate, speak up, and make decisions.

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But they also have to recognize that with these freedoms come some tough responsibilities. Second, leaders must recognize that there are no shortcuts in building an innovative culture. This approach rarely works. It confuses scale with culture. Simply breaking a big bureaucratic organization into smaller units does not magically endow them with entrepreneurial spirit.

Without strong management efforts to shape values, norms, and behaviors, these offspring units tend to inherit the culture of the parent organization that spawned them. They can. But the challenge of building innovative cultures inside these units should not be underestimated. And they will not be for everyone, so you will need to select very carefully who from the parent organization joins them.

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Finally, because innovative cultures can be unstable, and tension between the counterbalancing forces can easily be thrown out of whack, leaders need to be vigilant for signs of excess in any area and intervene to restore balance when necessary. Unbridled, a tolerance for failure can encourage slack thinking and excuse making, but too much intolerance for incompetence can create fear of risk taking.

Neither of these extremes is helpful.

If taken too far, a willingness to experiment can become permission to take poorly conceived risks, and overly strict discipline can squash good but ill-formed ideas. Collaboration taken too far can bog down decision making, but excessive emphasis on individual accountability can lead to a dysfunctional climate in which everyone jealously protects his or her own interests.

There is a difference between being candid and just plain nasty.

https://bioreconmady.gq Leaders need to be on the lookout for excessive tendencies, particularly in themselves. If you want your organization to strike the delicate balance required, then you as a leader must demonstrate the ability to strike that balance yourself. Gary P.

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