- Leandro Herrero - https://leandroherrero.com -

1/3 fixed, 2/3 fuzzy: try this organizational diet for a culture of empowerment and ownership.

Imagine a near nirvana, perfect scenario in which you have the right and the best people in the organization, intellectually, in terms of gravitas and commitment, and at the highest level of engagement and motivation. Imagine that they also have at their disposal the right level of resources. Imagine now how much ‘management’ you will need to put in place.

My guess is that you will be close to what I call the 3/3Fs: 1/3 fixed and 2/3 fuzzy. You will probably agree on two things: strategy and accountabilities. The rest would be commentary.

Here is where we go, here is what each of us is accountable for, end of organizational development discussion. I am of course exaggerating for an ideal scenario. The day to day, real life, is usually not ideal. We spend a lot of time fixing the 2/3 fuzzy: reporting lines, team structures, performance reporting, strict divisions of the cake, my role description/your role description, my department/your department. At the end, 3/3 non-fuzzy organizations come out. Please, now (by decree) be agile, think out of the box, and love innovation.

We have come to equate clarity and order with absolute crafting of all day to day details. Have a new group coming together to address something and 1 hour later they will report back on their preliminary conclusions: we will have a conference call every Wednesday at 3, and will meet face to face quarterly; we will disseminate the minutes, and, by the way, we have a core team and an extended team. Right!

You may not be able to reach the caricature of one of my Disruptive Ideas, ‘Fix accountabilities and forget the rest [1]’. But, in reality, you as leader don’t have to (don’t have to, should not have to, must strive for not having to ) craft all the details of the ‘how’.

This is an example of how not to create a new Project Team. Dear project team, this is the composition, this is the money, this is your leader, this is the goal, you’ll meet monthly and report ; these are the decisions that you can make, these are the ones you can’t; you are empowered, very empowered, be agile, be flexible, but, above all, be focused. Ah, I forgot, be focused but see the whole picture and have a helicopter view.

(Be focused, take a helicopter view, concentrate on what you do, see the whole picture. Be sane as well?)

Your good scenario as leader is the one where you have the luxury of fixing a small percentage of things, defining the non negotiable, and then relying on your teams for the how (structural, process, rules of the game, operational stuff).

There are not too many ‘answers to this’. If the answer is, ‘are you kidding? It would be chaos’, the problem is on you, or the organization you have created, or the people you have hired (inherited?) or in combinations. But your goal as leader is to retain the ‘minimum possible control’, that is, the 1/3 fixed and non negotiable that leaves the other 2/3 fuzzy.

Visualize fro a moment a culture of ownership. It does not work with all 3/3 fixed. Scary as it may sound, the whole plan fits on a one PowerPoint slide: This is the strategy, these are our accountabilities, now, how can we make this happen?