Where do you stand on the four concepts below for running your organization?
More important, where do you want your organization to stand in the future?
The concepts go to the heart of how organizations get things done… how they articulate purpose, mission, what they must do to reach goals, what goes in their annual plan, what competencies they need to accomplish the plan and measure success.
First concept: Nurture the means and the results will take care of themselves.
The concept assumes a desirable end result will emerge naturally as a consequence of nurturing activities of employees and suppliers in a human manner. It’s about the way the work is organized into a natural, living system.
Experience shows it’s sure-footed… witness Toyota which lives by it.
But it’s controversial. Many executives believe that what gets measured gets done.
Near-term results are critical to their holding on to their jobs. So they embrace Activity Based Costing and Balanced Scorecards. Current practices and beliefs would have to be scuttled to embrace the nurturing concept… and that sort of change is difficult.
Still, leading gurus applaud the approach. The constant use of process drivers, measurements and stretch goals can cripple an organization in the long run, wearing people down. So says a 2002 article in Booz Allen Hamilton’s quarterly magazine.
Besides, say the gurus, the measures don’t capture what’s really happening in important parts of an organization. Peter Drucker is one who concedes this point.
Does this mean all measures should be thrown out the window? No. But the nurturing concept ought to be the dominant focus in all organizations… until research proves otherwise.
Which makes paying attention to this second concept so important…
Identify and preserve a strong inner core and adapt everything else to a changing world. That’s the only true reliable source of stability over time… research says.
A strong inner core means knowing the organization’s core values, purpose. It means understanding what the passion is and identifying the right economic drivers.
There is no “right” inner core or ideology. Certain themes show up often …integrity, respect for the individual employee, service to the customer. But no single item shows up consistently. Authenticity and sticking to the core count more than content.
With a strong inner core in place, team members know what’s inviolate… whether nurturing trumps results or the other way around.
Which is a good segue to the third concept… Your people are volunteers, not assets.
It’s this premise which helps make the case for nurturing the organization.
When they sign up, they like to know there’s a strong inner core. While some volunteer for money, others volunteer for a sense of inner peace and accomplishing meaningful work that impacts the lives of others. That’s how they decide whether to stay and for how long. They look at what constitutes your inner core to help them decide.
Getting and keeping the right people is about what the volunteers want and need, as much as it is about an organization’s wishes. It’s about keeping from de-motivating people as much as it is about motivating them. Fresh hires start already motivated.
Create a culture that is worthy of the respect and dignity of those you want. That includes giving people a large opening to enlist, make commitments to strategies and tactics. Volunteers appreciate the monumental difference between enlisting support and giving orders, between gaining commitment and commanding obedience.
Creating such an environment… the fourth concept:
Transformations can’t be extracted, made, delivered or even staged; they can only be guided. A corollary: People don’t mind change; they mind being changed.
Lasting efforts occur step-by-step. Revolutions, dramatic change programs, wrenching restructurings create more turmoil than lasting change.
Hence, the need for process, tools, practices which best facilitate ideas, conversation, decisions…and allow teams, departments, companies, communities to reach their goals.