How “Holacracy” can help your organization now?

Brian J. Robertson crafts a wonderful management style that removes politics and decentralizes power that it empowers all in the game and ultimately make the organization agile, true to agile methodologies in software development. This book details the whole system and advices how to organize the teams and rules to play by a organization by Holacracy. There’s section which enlists the takeaways that you can still apply in non-Holacarcy organizations. The advice for those who aren’t able or ready to fully adopt Holacracy falls into four categories:

  1. Change your language, change your culture
  2. Rewrite your role descriptions
  3. Work on your organization,not just in it
  4. Streamline your meetings

Change Your Language, Change your Culture

Language is commonly seen as the verbal expression of culture, but language can also create culture. Try adopting some of these terms in your daily communications with your team and see how it changes your experience of working together.
Tensions and Tensions Processing:
Try replacing the language of “problems” and “solutions” with “tensions” and “proposals”. “Tension” in Holacracy, is a neutral term that simply means the feeling of a specific gap between current reality and a sensed potential. A tension is not a problem and it doesn’t necessarily need a solution; rather it points to an opportunity to move the way things are in present moment a little closer to the what things could be – which is usually a change for the better. To handle tension is by processing it.
Proposals rather than Problems:
Next shift is the habit of offering “Proposals” rather than just lamentations, when you feel a tension, take the next step, and ask yourself, “what would improve the situation? what could I propose?. Encourage your team to do the same. Proposal need not be perfect solution – it’s a way to start the conversation from a proactive, creative place, rather than the a negative one.
Any Objections?:
The next time you find yourself seeking buy-in from your tem around a decision, experiment with changing the way you communicate. Don;t ask, “Does everyone agree?” or “Does everyone like my proposal?” Those questions set you up for a long and tedious discussions. Instead ask, “Does anyone see any objections to this proposal?” and define an objection as “ a reason why this proposal would cause harm, or move us backward”. Another way to phrase the question would be “Does anyone see any reason why this isn’t safe enough to try, knowing we can revisit the decision if it doesn’t work?”.
Roles versus People:
When you’re assigning actions or projects to a member of your team, try referring to these actions or projects as being assigned to the particular role that person is filling. This helps to decouple the often fused “role and soul” and this to defuse the tensions that sometimes arise out of that conflation
Dynamic Steering:
Use a language that’s helpful in shifting your team from a ‘predict-and-control’ mindset to one that is more responsive and adaptable, with less analysis-paralysis. It is akin to naturally riding a bicycle allowing for some ‘weave and shift’ due course rather than riding it in a rigid manner and going nowhere. When we become attached to specific predicted outcome, there’s a risk we will get stuck fighting reality when it doesn’t conform to our prediction. If we find that we are not on the path we set out for ourselves, we may conclude, sometimes subconsciously, that something must be wrong. That judgement of reality inhibits our ability to respond, and encourages us to push against the unwelcome truth – to try to force reality to conform to our predicted vision. That’s not a very effective strategy for navigating the ever-changing complexity of business today. When reality conflicts with our best-laid plans, reality usually wins.

Rewrite Your Role Descriptions

Role is not a person, and one person can – and probably does – fill several roles. Differentiating these roles and the accountabilities they carry can go a long way toward making expectations explicit and avoiding treading on other people’s toes. Roles in Holacracy are dynamic, living things that change over time. Unlike traditional job descriptions, which are often vague, theoretical and soon outdated, Holacracy role definitions are based on the reality of what activities are experienced as useful in the organization, and they stay in sync with evolving reality. Holacracy’s governance process allows for continual clarification and refinement pf roles on the basis of actual tensions.

SAMPLE ROLE DEFINTION

Every role can have a purpose, domains and accountabilities

Role:

    Marketing

Purpose:

     Lots of buzz about our company and its services

Domains:

  • The company’s mailing list and social media accounts
  • Content on the company’s public website

Accountabilities:

  • Building relationships with potential customers in target markets defined by the Marketing Strategy role
  • Promoting and highlighting the organization’s services to potential customers via the web and social media channels
  • Triaging speaking invitations and other PR opportunities sent to the organization, and routing good opportunities to the Spokesperson role

Work on your organization,not just in it

Just don;t work in a organization but start working on it. One opportunity to start with is clearly defining your role and that of your team members. Another approach is to encourage your colleagues to ask themselves, “What would I do if this were my business?”

Streamline your meetings

Check-in and Closing rounds:
These can be easily added to the beginning and end of almost any meeting. their purpose is simple: the check-in round allows all present to notice and share whatever is on their minds that might be distracting them, so that the team is more present and focused, ready to move on to business at hand, while the closing round gives each person an opportunity to share reflections about the meeting. Just remember, in both rounds, people speak one at a time, with no discussion or response allowed. This is essential, to avoid your meetings devolving into personal discussions and to create a “safe space” for people to open up.

On-the-Fly Agenda Building:
Rather than going through a preset list of items that you think you should talk about, try driving your meetings with agenda built on the fly, in the meeting. This limits the agenda to items that someone feels enough tension about to bring up right then and there, and thus ensures that anything you spend time on is actually worth it, at least to someone.

The “What Do You Need?” Approach:
When dealing with an agenda item raised by a team member, it’s always helpful to start with the question “What do you need?”. This keeps the discussion focused on resolving the issue at hand.  It also helps to remind everyone that the only goal is to satisfy the person who raised the issue, without being diverted into other people’s related concerns. You’ll know you’re ready to move on when the person wo added the agenda item can answer yes to the question “Do you have what you need?”, even if other person aren’t satisfied. Their concerns can be dealt with as separate agenda item if necessary-which leads to the next element you may find useful.

One Tension at a Time:
This simple rule works wonders for streamlining a meeting and keeping it on track. It’s all too easy to start off addressing one issue, then find yourselves diverted by a half dozen related concerns, as everyone piles pet peeves on top of the original tension. The result is usually unsatisfactory for everyone, as often not much gets effectively resolved.

Integrated Decision Making:
This is a format that allows collaborative decision making

Advertisements

The Key to the Gate

This guide by EksAyn Aaron Anderson is very practical and noteworthy to emulate.

For most of the CEOs, gatekeepers like personal secretaries and receptionists guard access. It is their job to keep those barriers and filter who is worthy of the decision maker’s time. With the gatekeeper, your goal is to positively differentiate yourself. While the gatekeeper holds the key to gate and then beyond to the decision maker. You need to leave a positive, memorable impression that lets you stand out from all other salespeople that contact him each day. The distinguishing factors come when you act with solid principles: treat everyone with respect and as a friend, act with integrity, and be genuine and gracious. Some of the principles listed here:

Aim High:
Water flows downhill-so does influence. Sell to the people who can actually make decisions: Research and find the real decision maker and the gatekeepers

It’s a Process and not an event:
Getting an appointment is not an event, it is a process and you may or may not get the appointment at first call or after few rejections, the key is to try al possible ways

Treat Gatekeepers like Gold:
Acknowledging and recognizing a gatekeepers effectively is a three step process:

  1. Find something that you can honestly and sincerely compliment her on
  2. Write a note to the decision maker or boss
  3. Copy the gatekeeper on the email
    The principle of recognizing others is timeless. Again be sincere and honest. Most gatekeepers of high –level executives ate professional, helpful and polite – that’s why they are gatekeepers of high-level people. There may be times when you may chose not to compliment a gatekeepers when his/her conduct did not merit it.

Jujitsu Emails:
Jujitsu is an ancient Japanese fighting technique that uses skill to outmaneuvered the opponent. It is the art of using people’s weight and momentum against them. If II  am 150 pounds, and a 300 pounds solid guy is charging me, the outcome doesn’t look very promising for me. However, if I can use his 330 pounds of force against him by tripping him or getting out of the way of his momentum where he can’t stop, I can use my smallness to my advantage and his bigness to his disadvantage. The same principle can be applied to emails. As you start with the top person emailing, it is better to follow up with the gatekeeper and enquire on it. if the gatekeeper suggests to talk to a lower level, as her send that email to recommended person and copy you or alternatively you can do as well keeping the top level and gatekeeper in loop. this carries more weightage on the recommended person to act.

Chase and Dance:
Best salespeople are the best salespeople because they act nothing like a stereotypical salesperson. They act real, honest human – like a friend – who just wants to help. They are willing to admit that they may not have all the answers, their product may not be a fit, etc. They are willing to step back, remove the pressure and create space. They are conscious to reflect the tone and intensity level of the gatekeeper.

Chase:

  1. Gatekeeper: I think that we already have a product that oes what you’re selling. I don’t thnk we need your product. (stepping back)
  2. Salesperson: But I don’t think you understand how good our product really is. It beats the competition, It’s awesome. I really want to talk to mike so he can see how much money he is wasting using your current product. (steps in again and pushes).
  3. Gatekeeper: Like I said, I think that what we have works just fine (Stepping back and starting to run)

Dance:

  1. Gatekeeper: I think that we already have a product that oes what you’re selling. I don’t think we need your product. (stepping back)
  2. Salesperson: Great. Maybe you’re right. Maybe our product isn’t for you. We don’t want you to do business with us unless it is good for you. That’s why I wanted to talk to Mike. I wanted to find out his needs and the needs of your organization, and then let him know what we offer and see if there’s a fit. If there is a fit, great. If not, no big deal. (mirrors the emotion the gatekeeper shows of “we don’t need you”. Notice that the salesperson doesn’t “need” the sale either. This is mirrored emotion while stepping back.)
  3. Gatekeeper: I might be able to squeeze you in week after next (stepping in)

Chase:

  1. Gatekeeper: He is not gong to be able to meet with you for few weeks. We have quarterly numbers to do plus prepare for an annual conference (Stepping back)
  2. Salesperson: Well, I am only going to be in your area on those days. Is there any way to squeeze me in? Plus, of he likes our product he will need to take advantage of it very soon or he will miss out on our current promotion. (steps in and pushes)
  3. Gatekeeper: Sorry, it isn’t going to work this month. (Stepping back and holding onto her position)

Dance:

  1. Gatekeeper: He is not gong to be able to meet with you for few weeks. We have quarterly numbers to do plus prepare for an annual conference (Stepping back)
  2. Salesperson: Perfect. That is fine. I’m very busy myself. Whether it is now or next month, no big deal. Take your time (Mirrors the emotion and steps back too)
  3. Gatekeeper: Great. I will set up for the first week of next month. However, if things change, it might work for me to get in a bit earlier. I will let you know. (Stepping in)
  4. Salesperson: Perfect. If he can meet earlier, I will try to accommodate his schedule. (Mirrors the emotion and steps in, too.)

The Art of Getting Your Way:

Diplomacy is the art of letting others have your way – Daniel Vare. The principles here are:

  1. Listen more. You have two ears and one mouth
  2. Aim to understand others first

A Negotiation Example:

  1. My friend asked me to help in the purchase/negotiation of a car. In car dealership, after test driving a mustang, I made sure to mention the car was good and we are serious.
  2. I told the salesperson that we would need a great price for the car. “What o you need”? replied the salesperson (this was his way of asking me to name my position first). What If I said him, “I need $3000 off of the price?” Why could that be a compromising position? Because he may be willing to come down more than just $3000. What if he is willing to discount $4000 or $5000 from the sticker price. I stood my ground using a simple two step process: Compliment and Turn it around and ask a question
  3. My response: Great question, how low can you go? (maintaining control by asking another question. Notice I didn’t answer his question at all)
  4. The salesman replied, “I can o back to my boss an ask him how low he can go? but what do you need? (he was gain asking me ti name the position)
  5. Wow you’re a great negotiator. I still need you to go to your boss and ask him how low can he go? (this went on further and I didn’t name mine and answered all questions diplomatically and politely and calmly. It went on for few minutes before the salesman went to ask his boss)
  6. He came back with an answer: $246000. (that was $3000 from the sticker price)
  7. I replied “That’s trouble”
  8. Salesperson said, “we can do for $20600” (Much of what we say we do not say with words but with our body language and tone of voice).
  9. We walked towards the door, then a plea came that we do it for $19600

In the example above, we used negotiation principles by not naming our position first, and we used positive reinforcement by appreciating the gatekeeper for moving us in the direction of a sale. This could be applied in any negotiation situation.

Assumptive Questions:

During any negotiation, the way you ask questions is crucial and can mean the difference between getting the appointment/sale or not. It is imperative to speak confidently when asking for the appointment. Timid questions are asked in Yes/No format and is to be avoided. Confident salespeople phrase their questions confidently and assumptively as if the person has already said yes!?
Assumptive questions are just that – assumptive. You don’t ask if you can meet with her, you ask when. When it comes time to ask for the appointment, a confident and successful salesperson does not say, “So can I get an appointment with Mark?” Notice that this is yes/no question and easily opens up the door for the reply to be no. If you have done all the ground work, you have a right t ask the question assumptive. Being too assumptive may lead you to be deemed pushy!!.

Yes/No question: Can I get an appointment?
Powerful/Assumptive Question: Thanks for helping me out. Does this week or next week work for Tim? or What time works best so I can accommodate his schedule?

The Alliance–Managing (Entrepreneurial) Talent in the Networked Age

Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn founder, co-authors this definitive recruit-bender guide which tries to address the distrust between employee and employer with ‘Alliance’ as a new paradigm to create trust and enduring relationship that’s mutually beneficial. Treating employees as allies and assigning them ‘Tour of Duty’ is the change of attitude an employer to make to make this happen. Some ideas captured here to help to run your company / your branded “you” well in the networked age:

  1. ‘Tour of Duty’ comes from military where a soldier in his/her tenure goes through multiple ones typically diverse and different from every previous ones. This allows employer to incorporate some of the advantages of life time employment and free agency. It reduces pressure on both sides and builds trust incrementally. Each employer has to recast careers as successive tours of duty to attract and retain entrepreneurial talent. The gist is – Employee may quit at any time and that’s what they are empowered to do and the question is how long can you thwart that with mutual the trust to compete a tour of duty with mutual benefits
  2. Different Types of Tours – Rotational (assess the fit between employee and employer), Transformational (mission completion specific) , Foundational (top executives see to the end)
  3. Building Alignment in a tour of duty:
    1. Establish and disseminate the company’s core missions and values
    2. Learn each individual employee’s core aspirations and values
    3. ‘’Work together to align employee, manager and company
  4. Having The Conversation – Advice for Managers
    1. Define values in group – create a rough draft, present and seek feedback, there needs to be realistic understanding of the true company culture by a manager
    2. Define personal values one-on-one
    3. Build trust by opening up – Learning what an employee cares about helps build a relationship of trust. Asking participants to share their deepest feelings and beliefs for a single hour could generate the same sense of trust and intimacy that typically takes weeks, months and years to form. Direct questions like “Who’s the best co-worker you ever worked with?”, “What’s your proudest career moment?” help break down emotional distance. Its equally important to open up your own core aspirations and values to make this mutually equal.
  5. Managing the unexpected during the tour of duty
    1. What happens when one party breaks the alliance? – Employee can betray and just say it’s business and he‘ll lose future benefits and favourable references. For employers also there are similar and equal consequences
    2. What if one party is performing poorly? – Avoid short term knee jerk responses either side and look for long tern investments, but if it persists, either should release amicably and reasonably
    3. What if the employee wants to move into a new role within the company? – don’t block as long mission is completed or can be sustained by others and this lateral move is beneficial for both
  6. Network intelligence generates hidden data, serendipity and opportunity and how to implement a network intelligent program? – Tactics and Techniques investing in employee networks:
    1. Recruit Connected People: make a candidate’s network strength an explicit priority when hiring. It’s critical to define it – not on the number of followers/connections held but how far they could leverage that connections to solve a problem. In teh interview process, ask candidates about their strongest professional allies. Find out how they solve problems – do they call experts in their network. Reid during manager interview asks – who will the prospect hire after him? Reid will reach to them as a reference check as well.
    2. Teach Employees how to mine intelligence from their networks via conversation and social media: Knowledge isn’t valuable unless shared. Here are some questions to find answers and share those appropriate in the intranet with all employees/managers (Of course employees should use their discretion and always maintain their integrity) :–
      1. How is the key technology trend is shaping our industry?
      2. What are other companies (and competitors) doing that’s working or not working?
      3. What are our customers’ sentiments, what is motivating them, and how they have changed?
      4. who are the key people in the industry that we should engage with?
      5. what are the hiring trends in our industry?
      6. who are the new entrants in the marketplace and which of them are dong interesting things?
    3. Roll out programs and policies that help employees build their individual networks
      1. encourage Employees to be active on social media and to make themselves discoverable
      2. Setup a “networking fund” for employees: Networking lunch to get employees to talk smart people and summarize what they learnt in this conversation to all
      3. Facilitate speaking gigs for your employees
      4. Host events at your company office – meet-ups for like minded technical folks to share things and findings on industry trends
      5. Have employees share what they learn with the company: brown bag sessions, sharing research findings on new things connected to work