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.

How to create exponential growing group – Self Management challenges

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In a nutshell Self-management is defined by any system that organizes and motivates people in the work environment differently than the current hierarchal way. Self-management does this by replacing the current hierarchal managerial system with any system that distributes all the accountabilities and HR responsibilities of the classical manager to all employees or groups that used to be managed by central authority. There are endless variation of self management, as we defined it, in theory and in practice. There is one common characteristic between all self management variations, they are all distributing power that used to be given to one individual to many individuals.  We are not talking about empowering people to do their work in the way they want, since empowerment still supports centralistic approach. We are talking about distribution of the classical managerial role.

Self-management systems have many benefits (that we are going to discuss in our next blog post), but there are two main challenges that you need to be aware of and prepare to deal with to be able to successfully implement and run a team using self-management.

The first challenge is getting people to understand that they are accountable and can make the needed change to resolve their tensions. The challenge is to convince them to start using the tools available for them. I don’t know if it’s old habits or human behavior, but most people prefer someone else to resolve their issues. The problem is that in a self-management system there isn’t anyone that is going to resolve your tensions. You have to do it by yourself. Making people realize it and operate that way is a big challenge (at least based on my experience).

The second challenge is also the secret sauce for any self-management system,  the modified HR processes for a self-managed system. How are you going to hire, promote, give feedback, separate, compensate, deal with ethical issues? This is a partial list of different processes that need to be redefined to support a self-management system, and that is not an easy or short task at all.

I have never read any book, blog or article on self-management, Teal organization or any other name for new ways to organize and motivate people in the workspace that mentioned these challenges or proposed different ways of how to resolve them. The good news is that this is the goal of Marram, to help new and existing practitioners learn how to deal with the challenges and gain the benefits.

How to create exponential growing group – Wholeness

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As I discussed in my last post, Self-management, Wholeness and Purpose are the basic ingredients to create amazing exponential growing teams. In this post I want to focus on the most important and the hardest to adopt ingredient, Wholeness.

Relatively it’s easier to understand and implement purpose and self-management. They are more concrete, easy to understand and therefore easier to implement. Wholeness on the other way is vague, hard to grasp and requires behavioral change from all (or in best cases most) of group members.

First we must ask the big question, what is wholeness? For me there are two main elements of wholeness:

  • Wholeness of groups : is the understanding that each individual is part of the group(s), which then becomes a part of a bigger group (that contains all the sub groups). all of these sub-groups create one big group, or a “whole”. This concept of wholeness contradicts with the classical departments or groups that you’ll find in most of current organization ( Marketing, IT, Finical, Operations, etc).
  • Wholeness of individuals : is the understanding that people have different views and personalities, and those people need to work and behave as one coherent group. A coherent group refers to people walking on the same path towards the same goal, what I mean by this is understanding that people have different behaviors and different ways of doing tasks. These differences can cause one individual to view another in a negative way, because that individual is doing the task differently when in reality they are both trying to accomplish the same goal. We all know already that cohesive team is better than one lonely genius, we just don’t know how to achieve it. This contradicts with the concept of the lonely hero and the request from people to show up to work with a narrow “professional” self and to check other parts of the self at the door.

Even if I managed to help you understand the concept of Wholeness and make it more concrete, you will still probably be puzzled about how to implement this concept into existing organizations culture. To be honest the hardest part in creating an exponential growing team is implementing the concept of wholeness. Creating Wholeness culture in new forming team is much more easier than installing wholeness in existing culture. In this post I’m trying to share what I’ve learned about injecting wholeness into existing culture and change this existing culture from within.

I can share my experience and the purpose of Marram is that other people can share their own experience, to help each other or anyone else that want to start this journey as well.

I’ve learned that although those two aspects (wholeness of group, and individual) are going hand in hand, it’s easier to introduce the concept of wholeness of groups than wholeness of individuals. At first I tried to change group wholeness several times without much success. What I learned from those failures is that you need to break the current teams and departments that exist formally and informally into groups that have mixture of needed people from the previous teams and departments. The only successful way that I found was to use the overall “Whole” purpose as a common purpose. Once you have common purpose, the next step is to brainstorm what are the main functions that are needed to reach the common goal. Once you have the main functions it is easier to identify what are the needed expertise from the old structure to reach the newly formed functions. Following this approach you’ll end up with new structure that is far away from the artificially created structures that mainly exist today. Although this new structure has logic and if you involved your group has buy-in as well, it’s still takes time, care and attentions to details to make the new structure as the de-factor organization structure. This is not easy task, but significantly easier than individuals wholeness.

There is simple method to implement Individuals wholeness, but it takes more time, effort and resistance. The best way that I found to work is pairing two group members with opposite personalities, needs and behaviors. Next you need make the two people understand that each of them behave in a certain way, because that is how they function and do their best work and not because they hate the person or try to be a negative person. In this long process two people learn what motivate other personalities and how to appreciate and work with people with different or opposite personalities than their own. This process also slowly teach people that they can and need to bring their whole personality into work. For example, it’s better to discuss tensions between group members, rather than let some professional entity to do the work for you. This approach is working for us, the only limitation is the time and resource needed to drive this change.

In this post I tried to share my experience and what is working for us, I’ll be happy to hear what is working for you. If you have any additional questions feel free to contact me in the comment section.

Reducing number of meetings or increasing productivity 

One of the most common complains about XOIT is the number of meetings. After trying to get better understanding we found out that the main problem is actually the fact that the number of meeting preventing people from having several consecutive hours to do their work. We all know that the first 4 hours at work are also the most productive hours, therefore this is the newly approved proposal (policy) that we are going to try in the following months:

“To enable associates to perform their work without any interruptions, no tactical or governance meetings should be set up between 9:00 to 13:00. This policy requires all FIT-IT associates to not to set up new XOIT meetings and they should move existing tactical or governance meetings out of the 9:00 to 13:00 timeframe.”

I’ll keep you updated.

What distinguishes organizations that seeks out and implements better ways to motivate and organize people ? (5th generation organizations)

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We are vocal about different ways to motivate and organize people but what does that really mean?  What are the better ways and how do we get there?  It’s about time to make it clear.
There are many organizational theories trying to promote and implement new ideas to motivate and organize people (Teal Organizations, Organization 2.0, 21st Century Organization and many others).  Although they have different names, they all share three main characteristics that define how they are proposing to implement new ways to motivate and organize people.  In this post we want to focus on those characteristics.
Theoretically, one can break apart those characteristics as we did below, but in reality, the wholeness takes preference since they are all part of one change and they are dependent on each other for this change to take place.  In each 5th generation organization, you’ll find the following characteristics: distribution of authority and decision making, wholeness and purpose.
1. Distribution of authority and decision making: Vision, strategy and tactical decisions should be made by the closest role or group to the domain.  This usually ends up with a self-management model with a flat or non-managerial structure.  This model is different from the classical model where a relatively small group at the top of the organization defines vision and strategy and makes important decisions that will be disseminated for execution.
2. Wholeness: This concept has two aspects.  Individuals in the team understand that they are part of a group and this group is a part of a bigger group and so on.  What’s important is that everyone understands they are part of one “whole” and in order for this “whole” to operate correctly, everyone needs to perform well in coordination and with understanding that they are part of one group.
The second aspect is the realization that the “whole” is created by different people with different personalities that share the same purpose.  These people have different ideas, approaches and behaviors to reach the purpose.  Therefore, having a different approach is neither right nor wrong, it is just different.  We need to accept the fact that as a group we are made up of different people.  Usually wholeness will come with more investment in understanding different personalities so people can put their ego aside and learn how to work together.
3. Purpose: The entire group and each element in the group has a meaningful purpose that drives their work.  The purpose is not to make money or generate revenue, it’s a novel purpose with which people can align.  The end result may be significant revenues, but what drives the organization and all of its parts is a meaningful purpose(at least to the members of the organization).  In this organization, purpose will be well defined and regularly communicated to all groups.
Marram’s mission is to create a platform and technologies to support people and organizations that are exploring this direction or are in the middle of implementing a transition to a 5th generation organization.  We would like to collect and publish different concepts, implementations and best practices on how to turn those characteristics into reality.  We want to help others successfully go that rout.  No, we are not going to collect money from you.  We are doing this because it is our purpose, because we truly believe in it!

Join MarraM

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Join Marram to explore the unknown and change how organizations (and companies) are going to organize and motivate people in the future. Yes, there are many variations and part of them are very advanced compared to the original concept of Scientific management. With the Information Revolution succeeding the Industrial Revolution and new generations (Y and Z) entering the work environment, we are sure that there are better ways to motivate and organize people. A way that will help organizations be more prepared to motivate the information generation and enhance their ability as valuable contributors.

There are already many new approaches being debated and implemented by thoughtful leaders in existing organizations. If you want to be part of this movement, if you want to change how organizations will motivate and organize people, if you want to do something about it, your place is with us.

www.marram.org

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