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SOA is one of the root causes for problems in many companies.

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Silos Oriented Architecture (SOA :-)) is a typical architecture pattern used by organizations as they build their structure. Separate people into groups of experts, they believe, create groups that are highly effective and efficient in that domain. You know those silos, HR, IT, Marketing, Sales, etc.

The problem is that once you create a group, you immediately create the “We vs Them” behavior (in some extreme cases even dehumanization of the others). That becomes much worse when you intentionally create barriers between those silos for the efficiency of the group.

It doesn’t matter if you believe that organizations run like well-understood machines or as hard to understand complex systems, in both scenarios, total collaboration and dependencies between groups are vital to your organization’s success. SOA on the other hand, just makes cooperation harder to achieve and creates more dependencies that are needed to sustain the uniqueness of each group.

This pattern actually harms your business more than you think. Try to fight and remove those silos, and you will see how you’re resolving some key and long-term problems you are dealing with (Customer satisfaction will be the first).

Removal of silos or a more wholeness approach of your organization is one of the things that is easy to say and hard to do. If you have already found a way to do it, or you have an epiphany in the future, please share it with us.

What #NoHierarchy means?

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Keeping on changing and adjusting is one of the fundamental laws of nature. Most of us don’t want to recognize it, but the pace that we as a society and species are evolving is even faster than nature.

Every system, method or philosophy we created are most of the time based on our past experience and target to resolve current problems. This is the case for the popular and most common methodology to motivate and organize people – Hierarchy*, spiced with ideas from scientific management*. Those ideas worked pretty well for the industrial revolution, but are they still applicable today or for the future?

We evolved a lot since the industrial revolution as humans, and as a society (that invented new technologies embrace them and changed by them). I doubt if Frederick Taylor (the father of scientific management) thought about robots that will interact one with each other and humans, or the possibility of any employee to find an answer to most of the questions by using a search engine. Although we evolved a lot, our thoughts about organizing and motivating people stayed the same.

As a result, we hear all the time about the low level of engagement at work, the dissatisfaction from the workplace and lake of ownership. The gap is even much more significant with new generations that find it hard to be a part of today’s organizations. There are (few) people that understand that we need a fundamental change in organization/management, and there are (many) people that keep on complaining.

Most of the people that are looking for alternative believe that the cause is Hierarchy and scientific management. Although they all have the same conclusion, there are many alternatives to Hierarchy (or current management as most of us know it today). Responsive Org, Network-Centric organizations, Semco Style, Sociocracy, Holacracy, Meritocracy (without hierarchy), Teal-Organizations, and others are all examples of alternative systems. Some of them are ideas, and some of them are practical working solutions.

The tag #NoHierarchy refer to this movement of alternative options to the current way companies organize and motivate people.

*Hierarchy: A system in which members of an organization or society are ranked according to relative status or authority.

*scientific management: Management of a business, industry, or economy, according to principles of efficiency derived from experiments in methods of work and production, especially from time-and-motion studies.

Seven core principles for better organization (yet another one)

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Following my post about six principles for better organization, I realized after a lot of discussions and debates that I’m missing yet another principle.

Let Evolution work, don’t block it.
We are where we are as human beings thanks to evolution. Evolution is one of the most influential forces in nature that continuously makes it better. Evaluation tries all the time different ways, fails a lot and sometimes succeeded. If evolution had to follow procedures and policies and will be punished for every attempt? Well, you know the answer. Embrace evolution and find a way how to implement it in anything that you are doing. Define how you measure success and what are the criteria to eliminate particular mutation, but always find a way how to enable new mutations to be created.

6 core principles for wholeness, self management and purpose based organizations

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As I find my seat on the flight back to Houston from LA, I started the usual pleasantry with the passenger seating nearby the window. Very fast the chat becomes an interesting discussion as the passenger, Michelle, began to share with my her project while I explain to her my passion and what I’m doing to spread it.

Michelle is working for several months on a new initiative, that I believe, is going to disrupt HR significantly. After she heard my journey, Michelle shared that she is looking to set up her company in a new way. She finds self-management, wholeness and purpose based organization as a better fit for her vision than the traditional current hierarchical/flat structures. When she asked me how she should start her journey, I thought that it might be a good idea to share my thoughts with everyone.

I believe that the first step when thinking about starting a new company (or radically change your current organization) based on Wholeness, self-management, and purpose is to make sure you have a clear understanding of core principles (not more than 10) that will govern your behavior, culture and decision making.

Make sure that you articulate these core principles in a way that not just you, but other people who are new to your organization will understand them, even 100 years from now.

Those are the principles that I shared with Michelle. I hope that you find them useful. Please use them just if you 100% agree with them.

Radical Truth
Always say, use and seek the truth, even if it’s not convenient! Be true to yourself, and what you believe. When communicating with peers, customers, vendors, and even competitors always tell the truth. It’s better not to answer a question, rather than reply with a lie. It’s not enough to believe that you know the truth and you are right, Always make sure that you can prove to you and others your truth.

Radical Transparency
Be as a transparent as you can with anyone that you work and interact. Any member of our organization should know and understand any decision, from compensations to the company strategy and from success to failure. Never hide any information and always raise the flag. Use transparency to understand any decision and to give feedback to anyone. Transparency creates a high level of trust, so use it all the time.

Radical leading from mistakes
We are all human beings that make mistakes, no exceptions. Making a mistake is natural, but it’s necessary to learn from mistakes to prevent them from reoccurring. Anyone should fill safe to communicate their errors, by doing so you are not going to be impacted negatively. We all need to learn from our own and other people mistakes without creating a blaming culture. Learning from errors is crucial for continuous improvement, so make sure you understand and embrace it!

Radical self-awareness
Every one of us has greatness and weaknesses, being aware of them makes you a better person. Working in an environment that actively encourage people to be better creates a better working place. Continuously work and explore better ways to learn yourself and to be more aware how you are impacting other people as well as how different people influence you. Make sure that you communicate weaknesses that you want to work on. If other people know what you are working on, they can help you to reach your goals.

Radical self-management
For so many years most humans were told what they need to do. It starts during the industrial revolution, and it’s still here to different degrees. We want people that are the opposite, people that can manage themselves, that can think forward, find problems and take action to change what they believe is needed. Leaders are always required, you can see them everywhere in nature, but managers are not. Leaders should be the result of meritocracy, the only one that you can and will manage is yourself. self-management is not a replacement for execution and accountability, on the contrary, self-management require you to be responsible for your and your group execution and accountability. As a self-managed group, we need to take care of all challenges we see. There aren’t any manager you can complain to, and they will resolve your issues, you have to solve your issues! Whenever you identify a problem, roll your sleeves and fix it.

Clear and noble purpose
As a company, we should always have a noble purpose that we’re pursuing. Our noble purpose should explain precisely how we as a group of people are going to make the world better or help our community. Any member of our company should know our purpose and should be committed to it. Any group within the organization should have a purpose that derived from the company purpose.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any company he worked for or provide services to.

 

Are self-management, wholeness, and purpose going to save you or kill you during a disaster?

PartyThe situation was so surreal, like it was part of an award winning movie, yet it was the reality. The call caught Matt in the middle of the black rock desert during the annual Burning Man festival. The sound of happy people and loud music made it hard to hear the voice on the other end of the line. “We are declaring disaster recovery. We lost the building, and the data center is down as well. Join the bridge.” While looking for a quiet place to join the bridge all he could see were people celebrating the end of another building day.

Two years ago he started a culture shift from a hierarchical structure to self-managed, wholeness culture for three reasons. One of the reasons and the most important one was to prepare the IT group to support a significant disruption to the business. Now, without any preparation, he understood that all of the work he put in over the last two years was going to be put to the real test. More real than he even imagined, a real test for the non-hierarchal organization because the IT group has to function in radical self-management without central leadership.

Matt had already seen improvement in almost every metric (even exponential growth in several of the parameters) he and the IT group measured since they started to implement Wholeness, Self-managed and Purpose organization, but the new “creature” had never survived radical business disruption. And now it was happening, without any warning and preparation and as always at the worst time.

It took time to find a “quit” place to take the call, as all the festival area is one massive cluster of parties that mash all the music into a loud low vibration sound. When joining the bridge, Matt found out that due to the impact of Harvey on Houston he was the only one who could maintain the open bridge because he was outside the impacted city. Now he found himself even more disconnected as he lost his ability to communicate with other leaders in his group and across the company.

As expected, all related parties joined the bridge and Matt’s team started to follow the plan to recover all critical applications, the same procedure they just tested three months before the Hurricane hit. Everyone knew what he needed to do, therefore executing the plan took less time than it took during the test. Everyone was optimistic, even though a significant crisis was there, no one could sense it yet.

Quickly, it became clear that the concept of critical systems and the quality of the disaster recovery (DR) test were all wrong. The essential applications had dependencies on “non-critical” systems that weren’t part of the DR plan; therefore it would take days to restore them from backups. Matt knew that the building was underwater and due to electricity issues the temperature in the data center reached far above 160F, he could see the train wreck.

There was just one focus of thought in Matt’s head, how to resolve this catastrophe. As Matt was engaged in his thoughts, he started to hear from IT team members reporting on actions they were going to take to resolve the issues. They didn’t wait for anyone to provide solutions and they didn’t ask for permission; they just started to report what they were doing. We got a boat, and we are going to get into the data center to take computers and storage containing the missing dependent applications. We are going to get more space at our co-location, we are going to rewrite this service which stops a core business process from running.

More and more reports like that started to fill the tense silence on the bridge. As more and more reports were heard over the call, the progress was evident. With the positive momentum created by the reports, it also became more apparent that the disruption to the business would be minimal.

After twelve hours, that felt like a century; all the primary business functions were up and running. Matt knew that there was still a lot of work to bring up all needed solutions, but he also had the confidence that the team he was leading would manage to resolve all future issues.

This team just passed the hardest test, and they passed it significantly above the average grade. The new culture worked, even better than expected. Most of the group members knew that they could take action without any fear of punishment if they made mistakes. They acted like owners, and they did whatever they could to resolve the crisis. There weren’t any managers that gave orders or made any decisions for others. It was the IT team effort that came together to solve a significant disruption amidst chaos, and it worked perfectly well.

Matt attended the annual Burning Man festival to learn more about how people can be organized and motivated to reach goals without the traditional hierarchy structure. When his company managed to overcome a significant business disruption by taking into account the contribution of his team and the culture he created, he smiled and joined the big party. He just knew that he had more to teach than learn on self-management, wholeness, and purpose based organizations.

Want to learn more or collaborate about how people can be organized and motivated to reach goals without the traditional hierarchy structure? Join www.marram.org.

 

Who is running the internet?

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It was a long and tedious walk to “the window.” We just finished a long drive from Lubbock to Big Band national park, and we were sure that we would manage to hike our way to the “window” and take pictures of the sunset. So, an exited 50 years old man carry tons of photography gear and his 18 years old son carrying himself started a hick that will impact one of them.

We arrived just after a storm cleaned the park and cooled down the temperature, so we didn’t prepare ourselves for five miles hick, we just went for a short walk. Walking in nature has this beautiful ability to engage people in conversation, and we weren’t any exception. After one semester in college, we had a lot to cover anyway, and the long drive apparently didn’t provide enough time.

I don’t remember how the conversation flowed to that point, but at some point in our discussion, I found myself explaining what I’m doing as a manager at the company I worked for at that time. I told how I’m taking care of people and the company, how I’m setting priorities, distribute tasks to different groups, coordinate between our IT group and other groups or in a nutshell manage a group of people.

My son listen very carefully with a slowly growing smark as I’m enthusiastically peaching, and when I finished he asked me a simple question:

Who is running the internet?

No one I replied and started to explain how the Internet is working. He stopped my and responded. So If no one is running the Internet, the same internet that you always said that is one of the successful revolutions made by human beings, why your organization needs to run by single authority? Why you can’t use the internet model to run your team?

There was a long silence from my side as I had to process what I just heard.

 

 

I never thought about it that way, I replayed. You are probably right. Then the trail becomes much harder to follow and walk. Therefore our attention was shifted to the path. As we made our way jumping and climbing up and down the rocks, I couldn’t stop thinking about this question. Then we reached “The Window”!

As you can see in the picture, the view from this place is stunning; but for me, this “window” was also a window to a new world. A world where organizations organize and motivate people in a distributed way instead of the hierarchical and centralized approach.

As the sun set down, we struggle our way back to the car. I’ll let you judge if the hick was worth the picture, but I know that this hick worth a lot for me.

It was a long and tedious walk to “the window.” We just finished a long drive from Lubbock to Big Band National Park, and we were sure that we would manage to hike our way to the “window” and take pictures of the sunset. So, an excited 50 years old man carry tons of photography gear and his 18 years old son carrying himself started a hike that would impact one of them.

We arrived just after a storm had cleaned the park and cooled down the temperature. We didn’t prepare ourselves for a five mile hike, but for a short walk. However, walking in nature has this beautiful ability to engage people in conversation, and we weren’t any exception. After one semester in college, we had a lot to cover anyway, and the long drive apparently didn’t provide enough time.

I don’t remember how the conversation flowed to that point, but at some point in our discussion, I found myself explaining what I was doing as a manager at the company I worked for at that time. I told how I was taking care of people and the company, how I’m setting priorities, distributing tasks to different groups, coordinating between our IT group and other groups or in a nutshell managing a group of people.

My son listened very carefully with a slowly growing smirk as I’m enthusiastically preaching, and when I finished he asked me a simple question:

Who is running the Internet?

No one, I replied and started to explain how the Internet is working. He stopped me and responded. So, if no one is running the Internet, the same internet that you always said is one of the successful revolutions made by human beings, why does your organization needs to run by single authority? Why can’t you use the internet model to run your team?

There was a long silence from my side as I had to process what I just heard.

I never thought about it that way, I replied. You are probably right. Then the trail became much harder to follow and walk. Therefore our attention was shifted to the path. As we made our way jumping and climbing up and down the rocks, I couldn’t stop thinking about this question. Then we reached “The Window”!

As you can see in the picture, the view from this place is stunning; but for me, this “window” was also a window to a new world. A world where organizations organize and motivate people in a distributed way instead of the hierarchical and centralized approach.

As the sun set, we struggled our way back to the car. I’ll let you judge if the hike was worth the picture, but I know that this hike was worth a lot for me.

If this post causes you to think the same and you want to learn, discuss, or even be more proactive and make a change, please join us at www.marram.org.

 

How to create exponential growing group – Self Management advantages

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After we touched the main challenges with self-management at work, it’s about time to get a glimpse of the advantages of self-management. I took the same approach with the advantages, and I choose to focus on the main strengths. Those that you usually start to see more or less six months into the implementation. Those benefits will keep on growing as you spend more time practicing self-management at work.

There are three main advantages (at least from my experience). A significant increase in employee engagement, readiness to operate in extreme situations that can impact your business (regretfully we experienced it in reality) and exponential growth in performance.

Better engagement: How would you feel if you could make decisions at work, implement them and celebrate the success? Well, you are not unique. When you give people that ability to make decisions and implement them, you trigger two human behaviors. First, when someone makes a decision, he is more committed to the success and second the ability to make the decision makes us more connected to the working environment. If you think that empowerment reaches the same results that I just described, you’re right. Self-management though goes deeper than that with engagement. When you are taking away management and distributing the management role to the group members, you are giving anyone the ability to define the groups future, how the group operates and influences all the HR related processes. That puts any individual on the team in the lead seat. She has influence and control on her daily workday; she is the creator of the working space, the culture, and the results. When you have the feeling that you are creating something new, that you can influence, you feel like the owner. Feeling and behaving like the owner is the highest engagement level that you can get.

Are you ready for an extreme event that will disrupt your business? Any extreme event that will disrupt your business ( Loss of your competitive advantage, change in the industry, losing your ability to operate due to a natural disaster) will cause shock and confusion. Even if you can plan for part of those events, when they are taking place they will introduce new challenges in magnitude that you never expected. In such circumstances, planning will help, but won’t save you. Having the right culture and ability of your associates to step up, take action, and to be creative will save you during such an event. Implementing self-management creates a culture that requires any associate to make his own decisions and to be accountable for his actions without fear of punishment or judging. Making a decision in an environment where any choice influences other decision makers also requires better communication and collaboration to prevent a collision. Such a culture is crucial for any recovery from business disruption. Practicing the described culture every day encourages people not just to behave the same in the event of a crisis, but to take this behavior to the extreme. I’m not just talking theory here. This learning is based on an experience of losing the ability to perform business due to hurricane Harvey.

Killing silos, increases wholeness and boosts performance: When you have the opportunity to decide how you are going to resolve a problem, you are committed to the resolution, and you are going to do everything you can to prove that your solution is working. You are not just committed to the solution; you are also committed to finishing the task on time and without exceeding budget. Guess what, this rule applies to most people, and therefore practicing self-management at work will help any organization see a significant increase in almost any metrics the group chooses to use to measure performance. Self-management pushes the traditional monolithic team environment where you are part of a team that has the same expertise ( HR, IT, Financial, engineering, etc.’) into a hybrid consultancy model where you can perform different roles (that not merely match your expertise) in various groups. Being on several teams provides one the ability to contribute not only your expertise, but also any another talent that you usually are not required to bring to work (organizing events, any artistic abilities, or any skillset you have a personal preference with) helps to kill silos and increase wholeness. It kills silos by dissolving classical departments and teams into hybrid teams composed of people that are performing different roles in different groups. It increases wholeness by encouraging any individual to express any skillset that she possesses at work and by installing the idea of belonging to one big heterogeneous group instead of one homogenous team.