Best practices for running a NoHierarchy organization #2 – motivate other people to perform a task

Best practices for running a NoHierarchy organization. If you want to motivate other people to perform a task and the reluctant to do it, ask them what you need to so they will do it next time and listen. That’s the best way to get people doing something in NoHierarchy organization.

You can hear about it and a real-life example in that video:

Best practices for running NoHierarchy Organization #1

Any NoHierarchy working environment required another way to keep track of successes, lessons learned and future opportunities. If you practice any No Hierarchy structure at work, request anyone to post to all their peers on a daily basis what they’ve done, learned and one thing that needs to be changed. That’s the best way to keep anyone in sync and create meaningful knowledge-base.

Daily updates – episode 1

Why No-Hierachy structure better support organization long-term strategies.

This post started as a drawing on a napkin while I was challenged by a friend of mine to explain why I do believe that No hierarchical organizations are better for our current and future world.

Flights always provide the perfect environment for long and fruitful discussion. The complete separation from all stimulation creates lengthy and meaningful conversations. So, when I found myself with a friend on a long flight a few months ago, I started to chat with him about No hierarchical organizations and why they are better solutions for organizations now and in the future.

In some point of our conversation, the chat was more focus on why no-hierarchical organization structures are supporting better organizations long-term strategies, although most of the people still believe that hierarchical organizations are more efficient and therefore are a better fit for today’s world and the future.

Hierarchical organizations have some apparent advantages. It’s easier to make a decision, to change direction, to lead (or manage) and to show short-term successes. But there are also many disadvantages for hierarchical organizations. One of them is a weak connection or disconnection between the leader steering to a particular direction to the group that needs to follow the leader goals. Hierarchy creates a weak and fragile connection between the individual setting direction and others that need to follow the direction. When the leader set a long-term strategy, the weak and fragile links between leader and groups are even more problematic.

Diagram A

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As you can see in diagram A, The connection between leader or manager and the group depicts by a belt. This belt is used to create synchronization between the gear depicts the leader, and the gears depict the team. This belt represents a weak and fragile connection between leaders and groups (as any change in the belt will change the impact on the other gears, especially if the belt tears). Hierarchy, by definition, also has more layers of leaders/managers. Therefore leader direction is going through intermediaries that add their interpretation to the original message. Last but not least the hierarchy structure created single expertise teams that depend on leaders to communicate between teams.

In this structure, any change in the leader function or any change how the direction being communicated and followed by the leader (the belt), end up with disconnection or utterly new direction (when new leader introduced to the structure). That might be one of the reasons why it’s so hard for organizations to create and execute long-term strategies, but it’s much easier to reach short-term goals.

Diagram B

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One of the known alternatives to Hierarchy is Holacracy, but also this structure has several disadvantages, most of them the same you’ll find in hierarchies. Holacracy improved the way that the team operates, but in a nutshell, replace people hierarchy with circles (group) hierarchies. Holacracy also does not actively request circles to be multi-expertise. While leaders are nominated and can nominate partners to roles, the same problems that we mentioned for Hierarchy still applicable for Holacracy as well. Diagram B depicts Holacracy. You can see that belts again describes synchronization, the only difference that in this structure is between teams.

Diagram C

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No Hierarchy organizations structure in a different way. First, as the name implied there aren’t any managers or leaders that drive other people to reach goals, there are teams that are doing it together. Second, the teams are multi-functions by design. As you can see in diagram C, no belts exist in No Hierarchy organization. All you can see are many gears depicts different expertise working together to perform certain organization function. Organization functions are connected one to each other based on connections between different gears from various business functions.

The disadvantage of this structure is a challenge with fast decision making and the time it takes to create an architecture whereas many relations exist between gears. The advantage of this structure is that you can remove many gears out of the current structure, but yet the functions will perform as they agree following the culture they created. Such structure can support long-term strategies as there isn’t any dependency on one gear or even several gears to reach long-term goals.

The lines and dots model to understand why self-awareness and personal development are crucial for any organization.

The red lines and black dots is a simple model that helps to understand how we are developing communication and interaction issues, and why self-awareness and personal development are so crucial for any organization.

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Those two circles depict each one of us as we are born. The outer ring describes our interaction with the world, and the inner circle represents our cognitive abilities. Each one of us was born with no limitation to interact with the world and with no destruction of our cognitive abilities. When we are young, we are open to any interaction with others, and we don’t have any communication issues. Regretfully that won’t be the case for a long time.

interaction

As we are growing, two main events impact our ability to interact and communicate with others:

1) The Red Lines:
When we have a negative experience with a particular interaction, we burn a specific portion of our outer circle that responsible for interaction/communication with others. In our model, a red line on the outer circle represents burned interaction area.

Burn

Once an area of our outer interaction circle burned, we block ourselves from any similar integration. If for example during first grade while standing up and telling a story about your weekend trip to the class you notice several kids laughing, you might burn the area of public speaking. If you had painful interaction with an individual that is all about getting things done. You’ll find yourself shying away from any individual that exhibit the same attitude.

burn interaction

2) Black Dots:
To be able to survive our brain is wired to use cognitive bias. Instead of processing all the data that we get from the world logically, reach a judgment and react. Our brain will jump to conclusions based on previous experience. If for example, you hade frighting interaction (in your mind) with a man having a beard when you were three years old, you are going to see negatively any man with a beard. You won’t even be aware of it, it will happen in your subconscious, and it will cause you hesitation any time you see a man with a beard. That is cognitive bias. In our model cognitive bias is a black dot inside the inner circle.

dot interaction

Over time each one of us collects many red lines on our outer circle and black dots in our inner circle. When you join the workspace, your inner circle is full of dots, and your outer ring is mostly red. The problem is that you are not aware of that, which is very problematic. All you are aware of are conflicts when you interact with certain people.

whenJoiningWork

Self-awareness is the effort of understanding what the dots and the red lines that you are not aware of are (Self-awareness has other aspects not discussed here). Personal development is the process of finding out how to work around (or even remove) the red lines and the black dots.

Roadblocks and resolutions on the journey to implementing No Hierarchy organization

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Roadblocks are inevitable in any implementation of a change, especially when you are changing your organization structure. As you will progress with changing your organization structure from Hierarchy to any No Hierarchy structure, you probably going to experience the barriers described below and you probably encounter other roadblocks that are not part of this list yet. I hope that the below roadblocks (learned from some mutation of Holacracy) and their resolutions will help you in your journey. If you find them valuable and you experienced any barriers not mentioned in this post, please send us your experience so we can augment this article for the benefit of others.

Roadblock: Get Board/company owner support
Resolution:
Explain how the proposed change is going to resolve known business challenges today.

Roadblock: Most of the people are afraid of changes
Resolution:
1) Repetition of the reasons why we need to make a change or what are the challenges we need to deal with.
2) Invite all group members to find solutions that will address the challenges.
3) Present chosen solution together with other proposed solutions (if any suggested). Discuss with the group pros/cons of each solution.
4) Include as many people as you can in the decision making. Make it radically transparent.
5) Include the existing management group in the process of adopting the proposed method to your company culture and other people for validation. You had to change all the HR/Management processes as they are now distributing among all group members. Work with current management on the needed adjustment.
6) Education, education, and education. Consider using professional help, games and 1/1 meetings.
7) Start with one group and increase implementation slowly.
8) Set up a process that enables anyone in the group to suggest a change in the new method at any time, and follow it.
9) Be an example of everything you are advocating.
10) Give people at least one year to adjust.

Roadblock: Keeping accountability
Resolution:
1) Define roles with a clear purpose, responsibilities, and assets they are managing. Make sure that each role has at least one people assigned and not more than two.
2) Define metrics for each group to measure progress or problems.
3) Define HR processes that enable group members to hold each other accountable.
4) Check accountability as part of the hiring process.
5) Execute HR processes when needed.

Roadblock: People prefer others to make decisions, or the old structure is running unofficially
Resolution:
1) Promote a culture of learning from mistakes, not blaming.
2) Stick to the culture and create real-life examples of people failing without any other consequences but learning.
3) Set clear expectation what self-management means to a leader and group member.
4) Add self-management as a key element in feedbacks/reviews.
5) Change feedback system to be immediate/real-time 360 reviews.

Roadblock: The old silos structure still rules
Resolution:
1) Change seating to break silos.
2) Make sure anyone assigned to different roles in different groups, so all associates are all part of one group.
3) Promote and educate on wholeness.
4) Change the organization structure to promote wholeness and not silos.

Roadblock: We need a leader, we don’t have one
Resolution:
1) Explain what the expectations from a leader in self-management environment as well as what the difference is between leader and manager.
2) Re-educate on the role of a group leader and the distribution of the management role among group members.
3) Make changes when a leader of a group is not demonstrating leadership or distributed management.

Roadblock: People want to change, but they are just complaining
Resolution:
1) Keep on reminding people that they can suggest any change in their groups and there is a process to adopt it. They can do it on their own.
2) during “sync meetings” help people to translate frustration into a proposed change.
3) Promote suggested changes that make a difference.

Roadblock: Too many roles
Resolution:
1) Create role base review (help people to realize the number of roles and decrease roles by 40%)
2) Remove the assumption that compensation is based on the number of roles one is filling.

Roadblock: Too many meetings
Resolution:
1) Limit meetings after 13:00.
2) Use slack (or any other equivalent tool) to reduce the number of meetings significantly.
3) Promote ongoing validation of sub-groups.

Roadblock: People shy away from pushing other people that are not a fit for No Hierarchy out of the organization
Resolution:
1) Change HR processes to enable a small group to challenge people that are not following purpose, wholeness, and self-manage and separate them from the company if necessary.
2) Remove leads that weren’t able to remove members that are not a fit.

Roadblock: Its all based on self-awareness and soft skills
Resolution:
1) Create personal development group and roadmaps.
2) Create pairing of associates to help each other with self-awareness.

How to really attract Generation Z talent

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This year we will have the first Generation Z undergraduate finishing school and join the workplace. This Generation is already 25% of today’s U.S population. Therefore they are growing force in the workplace. Current businesses need this generation to provide new ideas and blood to keep the organizations growing. Generation Zs are looking for opportunities to join the workforce. The problem is that both Generation Z and current organizations have trouble reaching one each other. Generation Z expects a different culture in the workplace, one that existing businesses are unable to provide (for various reasons discussed below). Therefore, Generation Zs are reluctant to join existing organizational structures and prefer to create their own companies or provide services; in doing so, they become less likely to get a job when they get out of college.

There is one fundamental difference between Generation Z and previous generations. Generation Z was born into an environment where decentralization, distribution and Hybrid groups defeating the old centralized, command and control and siloed structure. The Internet, The new wave of terror cells, The Arab spring, Blockchain and others are examples of new and more efficient structures that beat the one that previous generations deemed as a better structure (naturally than the previous common structure). Understanding this difference is a crucial understanding of what Generation Z is looking for at the working place.

What members of Generation Z are looking for is a purpose driven, wholeness and self-managed environment. This generation expects the organization that they are joining to:
1) Have a profound meaning that can contribute to humanity or at least to their community.
2) Provide a workplace where they can express themselves without wearing any masks. A culture focused on radical truth, radical transparency, and self-awareness.
3) Give them the ability to manage themselves, to be part of the organization, to feel and be the owner.
4) Enable them to work on different projects where they can express the diverse expertise they have.

Regretfully, most of the existing companies are running based on an opposite set of beliefs and principles. For those organizations, it is impossible to make the change that the future generation is expecting. This gap is the primary drive beyond Generation Z self-initiative efforts, and why you’ll see many people calling them the most entrepreneur generation.

You can find many articles explaining how to make your current environment more friendly to generation Z, but to be honest enough we are talking here about a fundamental change that required a change in existing organizational culture and structure. As we all know, to drive a new corporate culture is a complicated and tedious effort. Even if you have the right leader to reach a successful culture change, the new appealing culture for Generation Z might be a culture that will push other generations away from your company. Not something that you want as well.

Sometimes it’s better to create new organization rather than change the existing. It feels that this is the case for Generation Z. Instead of trying to do the impossible and change your current company culture to fit all generations, it might be a better solution to create a new business entity with the right culture for Generation Z. It can be a new company, division or department. Any new structure builds on what generation Z is expecting from the workplace will be a much practical and easier approach to attract new generations. Obviously, As the new entity is more independence from the initiating entity, the probability of new culture adoption and success is higher.

I know that that might sound too bold approach, but never underestimate the huge difficulties coming with culture change and always try to find out why the majority of cultural changes fail. Try to take the new entity approach, the risk is relatively small, and it gives you more control and ability to stop this exercise without impacting your current business.

How autonomy, distribution, decentralization and killing silos defeat terrorism.

_nat3720_28856109502_oI learned about autonomy, distribution, decentralization and killing silos while consulting for one of the most respectful counter-terrorism organization in the world. Yes, you heard it right, Army and counter-terrorism.

I had the opportunity to work for many organizations in different parts of the world as an Enterprise Architect consultant. One of my engagements was with counterterrorism agency, which considered to be one of the respectful counterterrorism organization in the world. But, As I started to work with this agency they began to experience a growing wave of suicide bombers. This suicide boomers wave was extremely painful for the country as they managed to kill many innocent people. The wave was also very painful for this organization as it was clear that they didn’t have a clue how to deal with this wave. They couldn’t stop or even decrease the attacks number, frequency or quality. I can testify that their inability to change the negative momentum created a lot of tensions, which formed a vicious circle that makes it even harder to resolve the challenge they faced.

The tipping point of this agency’s success started when we invited to hear from the leader of the organization, who was a well-decorated army general, how he planned to change the formed status quo. We all gathered in a big auditorium without any windows and with green walls (that were common 20 years ago) covered with classical army slogans. Many streams of chats left a warm noisy loud sound. Nothing in the atmosphere indicated the level of shock this room is about to experience in less than twenty minutes.

Then, he entered the room, and at once you could hear the breath of people around you.

“There is one reason that we are losing in this battle. We are not fighting any more against countries or well-established terror groups supported by nations” he said. “We are fighting against small and completely autonomous groups. Groups that don’t have any silos, where everyone is self-managed and can perform many tasks. Those groups are running without any centralization or hierarchy. What unified them is one common purpose, to destroy us. If we want to win this war”, he said and took a long pause.

 

 

“If we want to win in this war, we need to operate like them! We need to break our silos; we need to create hybrid teams. Teams that have a clear purpose and autonomy as well as authority to reach their purpose.”

As I mentioned, you could see the shock on peoples faces, that turn into smarks and than into sarcastic comments. The classical Q&A session after the speech didn’t take any time as no one knew what to ask and was still afraid to say what was on his mind.

After one year of hard work, this organization changed from central hierarchy with command and control to distributed, autonomous and self-managed teams. Those hybrid teams managed to find creative solutions and over time to reduce and then completely stopped the suicide attack wave. The change was so profound as you could see how mediocre teams are adopting those new ideas and becoming highly functional teams.

This is how I learned about decentralization, distributed and heterogeneous teams. Now, when I have more perspective, I understand that decentralization and distribution will always win for a simple reason, they are the rule of nature, not a rule invented by humans.