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IF YOUR CULTURE IS BASED ON CONTROL, YOU WILL HIRE ONLY PEOPLE WHO NEED TO BE CONTROLLED.

Agenda

Recently, I had a talk with a group of executives. We were exchanging experience and tips around the new way of working. How much home office makes sense? When are virtual meetings useful? What we miss or gain by not being in the office? How many meetings are necessary at all while doing business? Etc.


IF YOUR CULTURE IS BASED ON CONTROL,  YOU WILL HIRE ONLY PEOPLE WHO NEED TO BE CONTROLLED.
Freedom


One of us proudly stated: In my organisation, when there is no agenda, there is no meeting!

Another one responded: In my organization, if there is an agenda, there is no meeting necessary! Others looked surprised, so he added: Well, it means, if there is a detailed agenda, there is little room to add value to the issue. The meeting becomes a monologue and time management – to cover all the points in the defined time – is the main focus.


Walk the talk. Whose talk?

If your company is an early startup, you will not have many processes, guidelines or procedures in place. But why? Well, it is not just the size of the team. It is mainly due to the fact that everybody trust everybody. The team is completely united around the joint vision to get it off the ground. And there is the highest possible level of ownership because everybody does and owns every job to be done. All run the steps up – as visualised above - as fast as they can.

Once you outgrow the trust, unity and ownership, it is different.

Once you don’t know everybody by first name, it is different.

Once not you but somebody else hired the guy from the other department of your company, it is different.

Jobs are defined, guidelines written, procedures put in place. Many need to walk somebody else’s talk.


But wait! What about innovation?

Well, innovation is hard when compliance is key. Just to be clear, compliance is extremely important but if misused as a control function, it suffocates the freedom to innovate, to challenge, to misbehave today while shaping the tomorrow.

Some large organisations use different ways not to fall into the trap of just behaving. Apple, for example, sticks to its functional structure since 1997.

Some maintain a decentralised management, that keeps the decision rights close to where business happens. It depends, in fact on the kind of the product or service and the art of competition you face.

Sooner or later, however, every company will be attacked by its peers or new entrant from outside of its industry.

Sooner or later, the main competitive advantage will be the freedom to talk and to act for the people in the organisation.

Why? Because freedom means speed, creativity, agility and for the CEO it means getting all the signals of change directly and first hand.

S-/he will outperform those CEOs who only find out in the newspaper or some research reports.


Have you ever used a stair to go up or down? I am sure, you have. They come in all shapes and lengths. Some of them are very famous: such as the Spanish stairs in Rome, for example.

Some of them leave it completely up to you how to use them. You can walk, run, jump – whichever way pleases you to use them. Some offer a little help in form of railings. For safety reasons or as a support for the weaker ones among us.

Sometimes, there are even more railings so the lines of people walking up and down can be better controlled.

Now we have to imagine a job, a department or a company and continue imagining it as stairs and railings… You might have experienced it this way: there are so many railings, so many controls and guidelines that any walking on these stairs is impossible.

So, sometimes you are trusted and granted the full freedom of what and how you do your job. You enjoy it, you engage, you grow and so does the company.

And sometimes, you face a maximum of control, micromanagement, mistrust, etc. You stop moving at all. You kick the bucket and the company goes belly up. These were precisely the last two movements of both of you.


STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN OR HIGHWAY TO HELL.



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