Reading summaries - week four, Fall 2017

Class themes this week were mission and mandates in SP and leadership in SHRM. Readings in each class centered on organizational culture, although from different angles. SHRM readings emphasized the importance of leadership that nurtures, advocated for a paradigm where leadership is understood more as a verb than a noun, and showed how conditions which foster intrinsic motivation lead to better results than command-and-control regimes that rely on coercion to drive results. SP readings focused on organizational culture from another standpoint - that when an organization does well at understanding its own identity and can clearly articulate its purpose, that helps fosters a strong bond with the individuals within it, which in turn leads to a greater sense of mission promoting intrinsic motivation and leading to better work outcomes.

Strategic Planning (SP)

Keeping an eye on the mirror: Image and identity in organizational adaptation, Dutton and Dukerich (1991)

  • an organization’s image and identity guide and activate individuals’ interpretations of an issue and motivations for action on it, and those interpretations and motivations affect patterns of organizational action over time
  • Models of how environments and organizations relate over time have typically assigned causal primacy to either environmental or organizational forces
  • A focus on issues as a starting point for interpretation and action in organizations charts a different course for seeing patterns of organizational action
  • Some issues are routine and expected, members can easily classify them and they elicit a well-learned response. Other issues are not as easily interpreted or processed, may be problematic because they are nontraditional or because of feelings they evoke
  • Analysis revealed that an organization’s identity and image are critical constructs for understanding the relationship between actions on and interpretations of an issue over time.
  • The article explores this concept through the case study of how the Port Authority of New York adapted in its response to a growing problem of homeless people in their facilities in the 1980s
    • The most significant change in the way the issue was defined during this period involved upper-level management’s acceptance of some organizational responsibility for dealing with the issue
    • This interpretive shift expanded concern for humane solutions and a heightened awareness of the issue’s severity
    • the organization’s identity and image played a role in creating the pattern of how individuals in the organization interpreted and responded to the homelessness issue
    • the organization’s image — how organization members thought others saw it — served as a gauge against which they evaluated and justified action on the issue
    • Over time, actions taken on issues reposition an organization in its environment by modifying tasks, allocation of resources, and assignments of personnel. The pattern of action on issues can therefore reinforce or potentially, transform the organization’s identity and image through individuals’ sense-making efforts, and the process of adaptation continues.
    • The Port Authority’s identity shaped its members’ interpretations of homelessness in at least three different ways.
      • Identity served as an important reference point for assessing the importance of the issue. Perceptions of issue importance are in turn important predictors of willingness to invest in an issue.
      • The expanding scope of the issue over time can be seen as an indication that the issue was being seen as more important and urgent as it threatened central identity components
      • Organization’s identity defined what aspects of the issue were seen as a threat and helped to locate solutions that could transform the issue into an opportunity
    • The organization’s identity affected the meanings members gave the issue. Two terms frequently applied were “moral issue” and “business issue.”
    • The organization’s identity was also significant in explaining the direction and level of emotional expression about the issue
    • The Port Authority’s identity also produced positive emotions when organizational actions were identity-consistent. For example, opening the two drop-in centers in record-breaking style was a source of pride.
    • the concept of identity is helpful in understanding how actions were shaped
    • The Port Authority’s identity offered implicit guidelines for evaluating the effectiveness of its actions on the issue
    • an organization’s identity is closely tied to its culture because identity provides a set of skills and a way of using and evaluating those skills that produce characteristic ways of doing thing
    • An organization’s identity is one of the vehicles through which “preconceptions determine appropriate action”
    • individuals’ senses of the organization’s identity did more than activate a set of familiar routines, that identity also constrained what were considered acceptable or legitimate solution
  • In sum, a knowledge of individuals’ beliefs about an organization’s identity is crucial for discerning the importance of an issue, its meanings, and its emotionality. These interpretations, shaped by the organization’s identity, move individuals’ commitment, involvement, indifference, and resistance in particular directions and thereby direct and shape organizational actions.
  • An organization’s identity describes what its members believe to be its character; an organization’s image describes attributes members believe people outside the organization use to distinguish it. Image is different from reputation which describes the attributes outsiders ascribe to an organization.
  • In the case of the Port Authority and its dealings with homelessness, image changes triggered the organization’s later, more substantive response to the issue
  • An organization’s image is directly related to the level of collective self-esteem derivable from organizational membership
  • As the story revealed, the damage to the organization’s image hurt individuals personally
  • As a result, individuals are strongly motivated and committed to take actions that will restore their organization’s image.
  • organizational actions on social issue can be especially character-enhancing or damning.
  • Because image and identity are constructs that organization members hold in their minds, they actively screen and interpret issues
  • The connection between organization, employee’s self-concepts, and their motivation to invest in and act on issues in particular ways uncovers a new way of thinking about the organizational adaptation process, a perspective in which organizational impression management is an important driving force in adaptation.
  • By linking individual motivation to organizational action, we begin to see new links between microprocesses and macro behaviors
  • individuals in organizations keep one eye on the organizational mirror when they interpret, react, and commit to organizational actions

Mission Mystique and a Belief System Template, Goodsell (2011)

  • The notion called mission mystique lays the basis for conscious development of strong organizational belief systems that center on a compelling public mission.
  • The institution becomes in effect endowed with a kind of magnetism or institution-level charisma
  • The construct’s underlying foundation permeates the institution’s culture, animates its workforce and inspires a desire to improve
  • Because of the underlying premise that coherence derives from a particular mission, each application of the template must be unique
  • While the organization is a rational instrument to achieve other purposes, the institution and its work possess inherent worth
  • the totality of the institution’s rational and normative attributes forms a “distinctive competence” or character that sets it apart. Essential ingredients of this competence are possession of a clearly defined mission and an embodiment of the mission’s values.
  • Attaining good alignment involves picking leaders whose character and style match the type of organization
  • Organizations acquire a collective character and identity over time, “historical efficiency”
  • Three pillars of organizations:
    • regulative pillar - system of rules and rewards/punishments
    • normative pillar - set of values and norms, defines goals and prescribes means to attain them
    • cognitive pillar - frames meaning and manipulates it
  • Four categories of cultural manifestation:
    • artifacts
    • behavior patterns
    • beliefs and values
    • basic assumptions
  • Importance of concentrating on the success of public programs. According to Anne Khademian, the best ones:
    1. possess a robustness based on long history
    2. incorporate the value of program excellence at the team and individual levels
    3. strive for openness to change, learning, diversity, and systemic thinking
  • organizational culture is not amenable to unilateral control. Instead, leaders must “work with the culture” as it evolves organically from these roots:
    1. organizational task or mission
    2. resources provided to accomplish that task
    3. the political environment’s legacies, expectations, and constraints
  • “sense of mission” has little to do with a written statement, consists of a coherent set of authentically felt norms that possess genuine meaning for all employees
  • a model made up of four components:
    1. purpose
    2. strategy
    3. policies
    4. values
  • direction and commitment of the organization as an entirety is best unleashed by means of continuous, gradual change at all levels
  • three devices of socialization:
    1. the formal mission statement
    2. credo or code of ethics
    3. current vision of the future
  • synthesis of these devices becomes, ideally, a convincing conveyance of the institution’s overall reason for being
  • purpose statement can be said to look to both past and future
  • James Weiss theory on the inner processes by which mission motivates and frames members of an organization:
    1. Structures of knowledge stemming from the mission process incoming information
    2. Mission motivates individuals by identifying a clear collective interests
    3. Existance of the mission assists in the making of decisions by offering reference points for weighing what actions are desirable
  • Yoash Wiener theory of normative commitment in the organization based not on instrumental logic but on internalized moral beliefs
  • Wiener measures organizational commitment by three variables:
    1. personal sacrifice to the organization
    2. heightened persistence and long tenure
    3. mental preoccupation with the work
  • Gary Wamsley notion of an institution’s constitution - relatively stable “rules of the game” which permeate its normative order. Functions to lay out common expectations of what actions are acceptable
  • What does mission mystique in action look like?
    • A belief system
    • Set of key interconnected attributes present:
    • resulting construct is called a template rather than a model or blueprint
    • In sum institutions possess the following characteristics:
      1. direction
      2. importance
      3. confidence
      4. dedication
      5. community
      6. identity
      7. dissent
      8. policy space
      9. renewal
  • More than any other quality, a strong sense of mission is indispensable to morale, image, and success.
  • The bottom line is that to contribute to mystique the mission should have two characteristics:
    1. a compelling “bite” - a crisp phrasing that captures the imagination
    2. a concept that is sufficiently simple that it can be absorbed and remembered
  • The object is not clear expression but emotional voltage
  • two separate but related attributes: a distinctive reputation and a solid record of achievement
  • A mission mystique agency need not be the winner of a popularity contest, only the possessor of a distinctive reputation
  • The best route to good agency reputation is an existing record of achievement in its distinct area
  • leaders should facilitate the development of an institutional belief system by initiating norm-creation processes
  • nudge-but don’t impose-cultural innovations
  • discarding rather than reshaping a usable organizational culture can be wasteful and destroy morale
  • The ideal mission mystique culture does several things:
    1. induces enthusiasm for the mission purpose
    2. reinforces individual employee motivation
    3. conveys a sense of work importance and the agency’s competence doing it
    4. supports a willingness to recognize agency shortcomings and experiment with change
  • The mission mystique ideal anticipates substantial cultural coherence
  • an institution is an organization wrapped in values, also wrapped in memories. Must consider and honor importance of organization’s past
  • Over time, the mission mystique agency must be relentless in engaging in renewal processes by which continuous improvement is sought. To do so requires thoughtful strategies and habits of the mind. It should be innovative but not make a fetish out of change for its own sake. Integrity of the institution’s distinctive competence must be preserved. Maintain connection with cultural roots yet always be ready to “rework” the culture when necessary.

Bryson, chapter four - clarifying organizational mandates and mission

  • Together mandates, mission, and values indicate the public value the organization will create and provide the social justification and legitimacy on which the organization’s existence depends.
  • Before an organization can define its mission and values, it should know exactly what it is formally and informally required to do
    • Formal requirements are likely to be codified
    • variety of informal mandates that may be embodied in norms or the expectations of key stakeholders
  • The purpose is to identify and clarify the nature and meaning of the externally imposed mandates affecting the organization. Four outcomes should be sought from this step:
    1. Identification of the organization’s formal and informal mandates
    2. Interpretation of what is required as a result of the mandates
    3. Clarification of what is forbidden by the mandates
    4. Clarification of what is not ruled out by the mandates
  • By considering what the organization might or should do, organizational members and other key stakeholders can engage in valuable discussions about which mandates are useful,
  • There are two potential longer-term desired outcomes
    1. clarity about what is mandated increases the likelihood that mandates will be met
    2. the possibility of developing a mission that is not limited to mandates is enhanced.
  • The process guidelines for this step:
    1. Have someone compile the formal and informal mandates
    2. Review the mandates in order to clarify
    3. institutionalize attention to the mandates
    4. Undertake a regular review of the mandates
  • without a sense of purpose we are quite literally lost. Mission provides that sense of purpose.
  • Without a vision of success, organizational members may not know enough about how to fulfill the mission
  • Mission, in other words, clarifies an organization’s purpose, or why it should be doing what it does; vision clarifies what the organization should look like and how it should behave in fulfilling its mission.
  • the foundation of any good vision of success is an organization’s mission statement
  • Ultimately strategic planning is about purpose, meaning, values, and virtue.
  • The aim of mission clarification is to specify the purposes of the organization and the philosophy and values that guide it.
  • agreement on an organizational mission that embraces socially desirable and justified purposes should produce legitimacy internally and externally, as well as enthusiasm and excitement among organizational members
  • agreement helps fosters a habit of focusing deliberations on what is truly important.
  • To be blunt: If you are not paying attention to what is important, what good are you as a leader or follower?
  • Because defining the mission may be thought of as the central function of leadership, more effective leadership is another outcome
    • helps articulate the purpose of organizational structures and systems,
    • provides a kind of premise control
    • leaders will be helped to guide internal conflict
  • Agreement on purpose can also help the parties agree what goals are to be pursued, or problems addressed, prior to exploring other solutions
  • Once an organization understands its purpose, it can define the problems it is meant to solve and can better understand how to choose among competing solutions.
  • Another desired outcome is the explicit attention given to philosophy, values, and culture. Without understanding their philosophy, values, and culture, organizations are likely to make serious errors in the strategy formulation step.
  • a stakeholder analysis forces team members to place themselves in the shoes of others—especially outsiders—and make a rather dispassionate assessment of the organization’s performance from the outsiders’ points of view.
  • Stakeholder analysis is primarily just an input to other steps in the process
  • A mission statement is a declaration of organizational purpose. They are typically short—no more than a page, and often not more than a punchy slogan. They should also be targeted, activist in tone, and inspiring. And they should lead to measures that will indicate whether or not the mission is being achieved.
  • Strategic planning should not be allowed to get in the way of useful action. However, it is important to remember that strategic planning is ultimately about purpose, meaning, value, and virtue, and therefore is philosophical at its base.
  • Peter Drucker six Socratic questions for strategic planning:
    1. Who are we?
    2. What are the basic social and political needs we exist to meet?
    3. In general, what do we do to recognize, anticipate, and respond to these needs or problems?
    4. How should we respond to our key stakeholders?
    5. What are our philosophy, values, and culture?
    6. What makes us distinctive or unique?
  • Several process guidelines should be kept in mind as a strategic planning group works at clarification of mission and mandates:
    1. Someone should be put in charge of compiling the organization’s formal and informal mandates.
    2. The group should complete a stakeholder analysis
    3. After completing the stakeholder analysis, the group should fill out mission statement worksheets
    4. Develop a draft mission statement
    5. Do not get stalled by development of a mission statement
      • If the group hits a snag, record areas of agreement and disagreement, then move on
    6. Expect to have to reexamine their draft mission statement while moving through the process
    7. Once agreement is reached on a mission statement, it should be kept in front of the strategic planning group as it moves through the planning process.
      • The organization’s mission provides a basis for resolving conflicts based on purposes and interests, not positions
    8. Once general agreement is reached, the mission should be visibly before all organizational members.
      • The organization that forgets its mission will drift
    9. Adoption of the organization’s mission marks an important decision point.
    10. Organizations not engaged in a full-blown strategic planning process may still want to hold mission retreats periodically to reaffirm and/or revisit and modify their mission.
  • Mandates are typically imposed from the outside. Mission is developed more from the inside.
  • Mandates and mission jointly frame the domain within which the organization seeks to create public value.
  • Creating lasting public value requires that the enduring benefits of what the organization does do and does not do must significantly outweigh the costs.

Strategic Human Resources Management (SHRM)

An Inspiriting Alternative: Partnership, Moxley (2000)

  • Leadership had predominantly been understood as something an individual provides. This is the industrial model. It is time to try another way of understanding and practicing leadership
  • Alternative: leadership as partnership. Basic concept of two or more people sharing power and joining forces.
  • It is understanding that leadership is an activity that happens in and comes from a collective. In this view leadership is not something that one individual provides to another, but rather results from the reciprocity of relationships.
  • Leadership is cocreated
  • Partnerships also suggest interdependence
  • In partnerships, leadership is understood more as a verb than a noun
  • Partnerships work when power is shared. Ego is still important, but now each person’s needs are acknowledged and honored, minimizing the chance that the ego needs of a single person dominate
  • In partnerships, leadership is not an outside-in process. Not forcing alignment with an executive’s vision, or “them” doing something for “us.” Partnership model is an inside-out process, surfacing the meaning and purpose that partners bring to their work and want from it.
  • Partnership is the activity that evokes and involves spirit. Has the capacity to move us to the unseen force at the core of our being with a sense of meaning (spirit).
  • Five requirements for the partnership model to work:
    1. Balance of power
    2. Shared purpose
    3. Shared responsibility
    4. Respect for the person
    5. Partnering in the nitty-gritty
  • Command-and-control appears more efficient, but whenever coercive power flows one way in a relationship resentment and hostility flow in the other.
  • Partnerships happen in simple experiences of work
  • Directive leadership by a single individual is less important than that the team knows how to function together as a close-knit unit
  • There is a growing realization that a vision cannot be imposed, that instead must emerge from the interaction of team members
  • If you create an environment where people truly participate, you don’t need control
  • culture is stronger than any individual
  • There is a relationship between having fun and inspired performance
  • It is possible to be successful and have a dispirited workforce. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
  • Leadership is not the province of a single individual. The personhood of each individual becomes more important.
  • In authentic partnerships and communities, individuals flourish. Meaning comes from within individuals and from relationships.
  • The partnership model seems to negate the importance of heroic figures. Consider these ideas:
    • It enhances the importance of all
      • A leader who emerges from partnership is and acts differently than someone who was appointed to their role
    • It obliges us to question uncritical assumptions about the executive-as-leader
      • Organization culture create the leader more than the leader creates the culture
    • One leader can only do so much
      • Increasing workforce diversity makes it more and more difficult to create and articulate a common vision. Shared vision is possible only if diverse interests and agendas of many stakeholders are combined
  • Command-and-control tactics work more effectively when times are tough
  • Assumption that the only power people have is to reward or punish is based on the belief that the only real source of power is power to coerce
  • In partnerships, power has a different source. It is personal rather than coercive.
  • Power is still present in the relationship, but it is based on covenant and not coercion, on commitment and not compliance
  • We must change our basic assumption about power. As long as we believe it’s a limited resource, our tendency is to hoard it. If by contrast we assume that it’s available to all people, then our understanding and relationship to it is changed.
  • Partnership is not another word for empowerment, which suggests that one person-a leader-shares their power with others. Partnership model is based on an assumption that power cannot be given, only claimed
  • Accountability and authority are linked. Along with accountabilities, individuals get the authority needed to meet them.
  • Partnerships require that all people in the relationship become more responsible and accountable for what happens.
  • We must no longer believe that real change in any organization can only start at the top. We must understand and act on our role as co-creator.
  • For partnership to work, ownership, authority, and accountability must be felt at every level, by every person
  • In partnership relationships, the gifts, skills, and energies of all the people are used. Differences are honored. Dialogue replaces diatribe. Conflict is held, or resolved in a productive way. Power, responsibility, and accountability are shared. Courage replaces collusion, commitment replaces compliance, and employees offer inspired performance rather than doing just enough to get by.

Douglas McGregor, revisited: Managing the human side of the enterprise, Heil, Bennis, & Stephens (2000)

Chapter 1 - Why McGregor matters

  • businesses that are able to tap their human potential in the most productive manner are the ones who enjoy enduring success.
  • The real task of management is to create conditions that result in genuine collaboration throughout the organization.
  • The nature of work today makes McGregor’s theories more relevant and necessary than ever, as enormous spread of technology makes the humans who run these tools more critical than ever.
  • because experience can be digitized and thus easily replicated, the ability to produce relationships fuels its own success.
  • blurring of products and services makes the underlying human transaction ever more critical.
  • the race is won by those companies that are willing and able to constantly reinvent what they produce.
  • machines don’t innovate-people do.
  • virtual, shifting organizations are bound more by trust than authority.
  • Exclusive reliance upon authority encourages countermeasures, minimal performance, even open rebellion.
  • we’ve gotten better at everything technological but have made less substantial strides in the people arena.
  • McGregor’s belief in the manager as a gardener, or system architect, allowed people to take a radically different approach to work. Leading self-organizing systems enabled people to cultivate rather than direct change; to enable people to realize their potential rather than “fix” them.
  • real change happens only when a community of interest decides it wants to be different and the obstacles to renewal are removed.
  • McGregor’s perspective anticipated the “systems thinking” approach
  • embrace complexity without being paralyzed by it.
  • People simply did not work hard at things they did not have a hand in creating. Rather, they worked hard to achieve deeply felt needs of theirs. His philosophy was greatly informed formed by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
  • belief that we must deal with whole persons
  • behavior modification models that used what he called “gimmicks” as doomed to fail. McGregor wanted to see behavior as intrinsically motivated.
  • view management not merely as a toolbox of tasks but as an integrative function that asks them to examine their deepest held beliefs about people and the nature of work.
  • Today his ideas have become the governing theories behind several important managerial tools and tactics.
  • most influential legacy may be open book management
  • smart companies create internal conditions that enable individuals to develop leadership skills at every level

Chapter 2 - Rethinking your thinking

  • Douglas McGregor’s most important legacy was neither Theory X nor Theory Y. It was his insistence that managers question their core assumptions about human nature
  • until a person peels away the layers, looks at himself, and recognizes his deeply held beliefs and attitudes, he cannot lead or design a truly effective organization in today’s world.
  • “At the core of any theory of human resources sources are assumptions about human motivation,”
  • There is a clear and direct link’ between core assumptions (often hidden and tacit) and the working policies and practices of an organization.
  • Leadership naturally reflects the assumptions and beliefs-the character-of the individual.
  • mobilize and align people through authenticity and presence.
  • People change how they lead and manage only by changing who they are and how they think.
  • Comfortable managers, set in their stuck patterns, will not risk the switching costs of rethinking their thinking without a, clear, demonstrable return
  • Rather than explore themselves, people in organizations turn to behavioral and contingency models that are easy to understand and easy to apply
  • They do work … but only in the short-term. Don’t lead to greater commitment and innovation, just a quick yet fleeting jolt in productivity.
  • A leader who speaks a message of authenticity yet behaves in a manner inconsistent with these words sends the exact opposite message
  • No matter how an individual acts, behavior exhibited in an attempt to get something in return turn will appear manipulative and feel insincere.
  • Any leader should seriously examine his or her personal motives and assumptions,
  • Push people to change, and in most cases, we simply increase the resistance to change. Anything that lowers people’s feeling of control will almost universally create pushback.
  • “This principle holds true for the ‘swing group’ in an organization. There are those on either end who will be positive or negative regardless.”

Chapter 3 - Becoming McGregorian

  • His ideas about the true essence of people in the workplace and his unwavering commitment to creating a new set of values for guiding the spirit of the workplace was considered heresy by some and an epiphany by others.
  • McGregor challenged management’s assumptions that:
    1. Only management was responsible for the economic success of the company
    2. People needed to be controlled and their behavior modified
    3. Without control by management, people would be passive-even resistant
    4. The average worker is by nature indolent, will work as little as possible and needs to be led
  • McGregor believed that people in the workplace could be held to a higher degree of motivation.
  • both managers and their employees need to embrace the challenges of work to achieve Theory Y actualization-where employees take responsibility for their growth and leaders better understand stand the conditions under which this growth can be nurtured.
  • McGregor emphasized that work was a process for creating opportunities, unlocking potential, encouraging growth, and offering guidance.
  • concepts of active participation, concern with individual dignity and growth, and aligning individual needs with organizational goals are even more relevant today
  • Managers must concentrate their efforts on building a day-to-day work environment where values are practiced on a consistent basis and held in the highest regard and where risk is not only tolerated, but encouraged.
  • Motivated, involved, and committed employees can result in a lower cost of doing business, higher productivity, substantial process improvement, faster service innovations, better customer information, new employee referrals, and much more.
  • trust is the key
  • if we genuinely believe that employees have the same human needs as we do and that the only way to win their commitment is by treating them each as individuals, are the people practices we have in our organizations up to the task?
  • It’s time we face the facts. While company after company claims that its employees are its most important asset, the majority of employee policies and practices don’t bear this out.
  • how can we expect them to take us seriously when we continue to rely on one-size-fits-all fits-all people practices?
  • If employees are truly our most important asset, why is it that the training budget is the first thing cut when money gets tight?
  • it’s a rare company, and an exceptional leader, who dares to devote the time and effort to form the human relationships with co-workers that lead to the commitment we all say we’re looking for.
  • We must make unleashing the potential of people a strategic imperative and we must commit to finding a better way. At
  • Although most managers agree that leading people is their primary job, most have not developed a hypothesis about how to go about unleashing the potential of people.
  • without out theory, even our best efforts are left unexamined and are bound to fall short.
  • managers seeking to unleash human potential must first abandon their oversimplified, mechanistic view of the workplace
  • Putting McGregor’s thinking into practice, however, as many of us know, is easier said than done.
  • these simple, mechanically based systems may be sufficient to obtain obedience to work rules and compliance to processes, they do little to improve the relationship with the workers

Chapter 4 - Thinking systematically

  • Albert Einstein told us, “How we think determines what we measure.”
  • Our thinking, our belief system, our mindset determines our priorities, our procedures, our processes, what we expect from people, and the way we deal with them.
  • We simply can’t think one thing and do another, and expect to do either very well.
  • The biggest problem with a mindset is that once we’ve developed one, we tend not to challenge it, particularly when it seems effective.
  • in a rapidly changing environment such as the one we compete in today, leaping to the conclusion that what works today should work tomorrow is dangerous business.
  • All of us in the workplace must continually reexamine examine the way we think.
  • examining and updating our thinking will take a combination of guts and forthrightness.
  • to a greater or lesser degree, we all protect the way we think.
  • Continuously testing the quality of our thinking must become a fundamental part of every improvement process.
  • issues should be discussed among diverse groups to ensure that a wide range of opinions and contrary points of view are heard. Take what we learn from these discussions to redesign the way work is done and eliminate inconsistencies
  • By definition, any discussion of what, why, and how we think will focus more on theory than action.

Chapter 6 - Winning with teams

  • If the situation is right and the price is not too high, people will gladly cooperate.
  • the way for most of us to win today is no longer in competitive isolation, but by bringing together the expertise necessary to build value.
  • dialogue, debate, questioning, and confrontation that occurs within a team that allows people to see the world from differing perspectives.
  • When team members share a common vision and enjoy regular contact with their co-workers, they generally receive faster, more accurate feedback, have more control over their work environment
  • the complexity of managing teams forces leaders to think and act more systemically.
  • Genuinely embracing teamwork rather than just talking about it won’t be easy
  • In many cases, we seem to be trying to work in teams while maintaining those structures that focus on individual performance
  • successful teams usually have:
    1. A shared commitment to clearly defined objectives.
    2. Interdependence as an integral element of team design.
    3. A compelling purpose that evokes commitment.
    4. A methodology that facilitates learning.
    5. A combination of the right skills and abilities.
    6. Mutual accountability as a core value.
    7. Trust from the outset.
    8. A supportive organizational structure.
    9. The challenge to overstretch the present system.
    10. Diversity of thought.
    11. Quick starters.
    12. Clear values and rules of behavior.
    13. Significant time to spend as a team.
    14. Regular, structured, honest feedback.
  • management teams are more difficult to form and manage effectively. Some common failings include:
    1. All direct reports must be on the team.
    2. The team’s goals are the organization’s goals.
    3. Goals of the team members are not aligned.
    4. Systems support competitive behaviors more than cooperation.
    5. People are selected by position and not their potential to contribute.
    6. Status differences lessen the willingness of members to challenge ideas and thinking.
    7. Everyone must be involved in every decision or people feel left out.
    8. Managing the boss’ perception is the primary goal of some managers.
    9. The illusion of agreement is often the implicit goal of the group or “groupthink.”
    10. Systematic feedback on team effectiveness does not exist.

Chapter 7 - Build cooperation instead of internal competition

  • As much as we claim we want cooperation, most of our structures don’t reward it
  • To meet today’s demands, we need to be pulling together
  • If our structure required teamwork, most people would readily cooperate without a library of teambuilding exercises. The task itself would create a cause to rally around.
  • The organization whose employees must compete for a limited number of wins creates a scarcity mentality of its own
  • Eight risks of a competitive culture:
    1. Internal competition drives out creativity and innovation.
    2. Internal competition inhibits dialogue.
    3. Internal competition impacts relationships negatively.
    4. Internal competition lowers product and service quality.
    5. Internal competition destroys focus.
    6. Internal competitiveness reduces efficiency.
    7. Internal competition demotivates the non-winners.
    8. Internal competition lessens self-esteem.
  • there are many ways to break the hold that internal competition may have on the organization, for example:
    • Increase the interactions between individuals and groups.
    • Ensure that everyone has the opportunity to win.
    • Establish cooperation and respect as core values.
    • Recognize teamwork, appreciate cooperation, improve recognition abilities.
    • Educate everyone about the entire process.
    • Beware of quick rotations.
    • Involve everyone in at least one cross functional improvement effort.
    • Consider teams as the primary unit of responsibility. Design in interdependence.

Chapter 8 - Building the intrinsically motivating, actualizing organization

  • To be successful as managers in an arena rife with complexity, chaos, and uncertainty we must take a page from science and learn to evolve a hypothesis about how people are motivated and then test it rigorously against the practices we implement.
  • resist the temptation to embrace oversimplified models that fail to account for the complexity of individuals.
  • face the fact that we don’t always have the answer and must be accepting, rather than defensive, when our ideas are challenged.
  • can’t-afford-to-fail mentality has spawned a host of behaviors that seriously hampered management’s ability to learn and to become better leaders.
  • when we fail, we immediately stop to determine what went wrong and why.
  • we must become more disciplined in our attempt to learn what makes our co-workers tick. At the same time, we must become more disciplined in our attempt to understand the organizational system in which they tick
  • must embrace the complexity of these issues and become come avid learners rather than readers of old scripts.
  • first step in this process is to develop a systematic approach to learning. Fortunately, the tools for this task already exist in most companies. Though saddled with a variety of monikers, each of these tools espouses basically the same methodology for learning:
    1. Identify the gap between what is and what should be
    2. Identify the probable cause of the gap
    3. Research possible solutions
    4. Test new actions
    5. Measure the differences
    6. Begin the process again
  • These learning tools are almost identical to the scientific method most of us learned in high school, with one critical exception: The scientific method demands a hypothesis
  • By adding theory to the tools that exist in their organizations, most managers already have the wherewithal to improve the learning at their disposal.
  • Without theory, it is too easy to overdose on anecdotes.
  • Without a complete understanding of our assumptions, we cannot understand the relevance of the techniques and tools we choose
  • For an organization to operate as a learning organization it must be viewed and analyzed in terms of its being an open system.
  • The management style most supportive of the learning organization is a coaching and participative one.
  • People become an organization’s most valuable asset in a learning organization and the development of people becomes the most important task of management.
  • Stated simply, McGregor’s theory is that most people are born motivated to pursue what they perceive they need and that, if we want a motivated workforce, we must build and continually modify an environment in which people can fulfill these needs while pursuing the goals of the organization.
  • The obvious key to the successful implementation of this theory is alignment of personal needs and organizational goals. The argument follows that, once this alignment is achieved, businesses can benefit from the natural tendency of employees to act to fulfill their needs
  • The challenge then lies not in motivating people but in building an environment in which motivated people are willing to make a maximum contribution.
  • For too long, many have confused compliance with commitment-and compliance breeds resentment.
  • Commitment is a personal choice
  • Extrinsic rewards:
    • Can change the way people approach their work
    • Can be perceived to be controlling and manipulative
    • Can discourage creativity
    • Don’t lead to lasting change
    • Encourage inappropriate solutions to complex problems
    • Impede the leader’s development of leadership skills
    • Are expensive
    • Can be punishing
  • Intrinsic rewards, on the other hand, are inherent not in the reward but in the activity
  • no one but employees themselves can provide the reward that counts the most: a genuine sense of accomplishment.
  • We like to be in control, and we can’t control intrinsic satisfaction beyond creating and controlling the environment in which it takes place.
  • What makes the extrinsic conclusion far too seductive for many managers is that they feel more comfortable thinking in terms of meting out cheese to rats in a maze as a reward for desired behavior than reshaping their thinking or rewriting their script.
  • Extrinsic rewards actually interfere with creating the highly flexible learning environment
  • Given the demands of a McGregorian world, we believe that forcing employees down Maslow’s hierarchy and compromising employee creativity is simply too high a price to pay for control.
  • We have to make a choice: whether to continue to keep a close rein on the workforce in an environment that promises compliance at best or whether to create a new, intrinsically motivated environment where the work itself provides its own rewards and where people can fulfill their own needs while committing themselves to the organization’s objectives.
  • If we are willing, then we need to begin our journey by identifying those behaviors and systems that people in the organization perceive to be inequitable and we need to destroy them-even before we have a tried-and-true replacement.
  • resist the temptation to resort to carrot-and-stick mentality
  • accept that we won’t do everything right the first time or even the second, but by persisting, we will learn and get better with every try.
  • In theory, empowerment is about the redistribution of authority and accountability in the organization.
  • In most instances, empowerment is an attempt to bring about a new result while still working from an old set of assumptions.
  • If our goal is to get people to act like owners-to treat the company’s money like their own, to treat the company’s customers like their own, and to commit to their work as an owner might-then it’s time to move beyond what we have come to know as empowerment and create a true sense of “ownership” through formalized structures that go deep into the design of the organization.

Chapter 9 - Creating a cause worthy of commitment

  • One of the keys to winning employee commitment is to create a cause that is worthy of such commitment.
  • Eight responsibilities are at the foundation of process improvement efforts:
  • Is it possible to create an interesting, challenging job for every employee? The answer is yes-provided that we make the change from the old-fashioned, factory-based mindset to one that better accommodates flexibility and responsiveness and, above all, expects significant contributions from everyone in the company. Interest and, commitment are possible for many employees if, in addition to the performance of the task, they are charged with the management of the process. What would this entail? Eight responsibilities are at the foundation of process improvement efforts:
    1. Gather information
    2. Help design the service delivery process
    3. Customize the process when necessary
    4. Measure the quality of their own performance
    5. Identify disgruntled customers
    6. Find the root cause of service problems
    7. Improve the process
    8. Have the power to routinely eliminate non-value-adding tasks
  • In many companies, the attempt to increase employee involvement has been more fad than passion. The road to creating an organization in which employees can take responsibility for making a meaningful contribution will not be an easy one to travel, however, particularly at the outset.
  • Keep in mind, too, that people can’t be made to feel that their jobs are valuable. The only way for that to happen is to give them responsible positions. The simple truth is that if employees don’t play a significant role in the business, you can’t fool them into thinking they do.
  • Of the many ways organizations are trying to improve the performance of their employees, increased accountability is one of the most important. Accountability may be the single most important factor in effective decision making.
  • The wrong kind of accountability, however, can focus energy on the wrong kind of activities, and can lead to the formation of habits that must be broken. For example, common for managers to be largely accountable for making their managers look good.
  • Left unchanged, these accountability practices wed us to the past. They make it more rewarding (or at least less punishing) to do things as they have always been done.
  • we must design sign accountability so that it supports that role and encourages that change. The focus needs to be less on immediate (and sometimes meaningless) results and more on continuous improvement and learning.
  • Most organizations work from the assumption that management knows best-that if lower level employees seek greater authority, they must ask for it. What if we shifted that burden of proof to management?
  • Nothing is more unfair than holding someone accountable for something thing they can’t do.
  • Here are three questions to ask before fore assigning accountability:
    1. What must be done?
    2. Who will be accountable?
    3. What abilities will those being held accountable need to achieve success?
  • the ability to succeed today will probably not be adequate a year from now, and that the best companies are focusing their training efforts 12 to 18 months into the future.
  • While some of the skills that these companies panies invest in today may not be transferable to future processes, learning that will result from broader experiences and education, more experimentation, process improvement skills, and facility in handling information better will enable these companies to adapt to change more quickly, respond with greater flexibility, and shift course more effectively when the time is right.

Chapter 10 - Leaders, test your assumptions

  • Collectively, we are a people seeking something powerful and meaningful to touch our hearts and minds. We are at our best when we are swept up by commitment and are working in the service of a larger goal.
  • The measure of a worthwhile cause is not how lofty it sounds to an outsider or how it assuages the social conscience or stimulates the competitive juices of the management council. A good cause is one that excites employees, deepens their commitment, and lends meaning to their work.
  • People genuinely want their company to stand for something. And, when it does, it increases people’s feelings that their organization is special.
  • If we’re not going to live our values, we would be better off not listing them. In these cases, employees are reminded daily of how little leaders in the company can be trusted to keep their word.
  • To be effective, values must be:
    • Profound enough to touch the hearts and minds of all employees, yet simple enough to be readily understood.
    • Concrete enough to provide a useful framework for decision making.
    • Pragmatic enough and sufficiently consistent with organizational structures to be reinforced in normal day-to-day activities.
    • Communicated over time in every aspect of the business.
    • Reinforced through accountability.
  • In most organizations, people are biased toward the way they wish things were, not as things are. The choice to avoid the truth is not always a conscious one and is often quite subtle.
  • Developing a shared sense of reality must be a strategic issue.
  • we must search out and eliminate those practices that make it safer or more rewarding to do anything but “tell it like it is.”
  • As part of seeing that reality with greater clarity, we must continue to contemplate new information and strive to see old information in new ways.
  • ask the difficult questions-those that challenge the system and “business as usual”-and and work to create an environment where questions are welcomed.
  • For a fair and candid review of what’s really happening in our organization, we need only to check with the employees on the front line. The front line never lies.
Written on September 28, 2017