What’s the secret to building a great organization? How do you sustain consistent growth, profits, and a competitive landscape that continue to evolve? And how do you build a culture of commitment and performance when the notion of loyalty – on the part of consumers, customers, employees and employers – seems like a quaint anachronism? Living a life of inquiry I continue to look East and West and back East for the answer. What I have found is simply:
Do Unto Others What You Want Others Do Unto You
That is both a simple and a profoundly difficult goal. It means spending less time benchmarking best practices and more time building an organization in which personality counts as much as quality and reliability. It also means cultivating an ability to embrace paradox. It means building up an open system with large enough platforms for co-evolution to take place. It is impossible for anyone to predict the future with absolute certainty but a deliberate process of reflecting learning, meaningful and purposeful collaborations can and do make tremendous difference. It is about fostering a culture of conversations, of recognitions of star employees, managers, customers, consumers. While the fad continue to about boasting the importance of team-works, collectivity rather than the fostering of individual stars; numerous emperical studies have proven that in a 80-20 world of Pareto, it is an organization that foster, recognize and appreciate the role of individual stars that succeed.
Standard good practice like maintaining a strong balance sheet, watching out costs, and paying as much attention to the organizational financial fitness in good times as in bad is the basic discipline needed for any organization. That discipline lets us move quickly when opportunities come our way.
But you can’t just lead by the numbers. Any organization is a complex adaptive system with a vast arrays of interactions (informal and formal) within and outside any formal boundaries and/or hierarchies. Any organization produces many more self organizing entities (formal or informal) with their own complex goals, needs, aspirations, languages and even interpretation of what the organization is about.
Unifying these molecules, agents or actors within your organization would necessarily need to lead to the formulation of some relevant and purposeful activities. Most would argue that such activities would be most fruitfully aim at ensuring that there always remain a common theme within the organization that business can and should be fun and of course meaningful. At far too many companies, when you come into the office you put on a mask. You look different, talk different, act different – which is why most business encounters are, at best, bland and impersonal. A creative work is only possible if you provide creative spaces by allowing individual and group differences, for friendship to be made and sense of belonging to form. Although a large part of the services and tasks performed within an organization can be explained by the sense of unified mission and noble vision, the bulk of human cooperation is based, not on an ingrained sense of duties and rights, but on reciprocation. Today that not only means fair economic exchanges but also the nature, feel and comfort of the communities where those exchanges are taking place. The real accomplishment of the situation is to inspire people to contribute and buy into a concept, to share a feeling and an attitude, to identify with the company – and then to execute.
Then, of course, you can’t have a culture of commitment and performance without equitable employee compensation, and that includes executive compensation.