We have been exploring briefly in the last days the Steering system of the company under the formula: (1) Space in the World (Purpose) + (2) Core Beliefs + (3) Non-negotiable Behaviours + (4) Organization Logic (Basic People Algorithms) = (5) Company Constitution
A few words on Core Beliefs:
This terms substitutes Values. As I mentioned in the first Daily Thought of this miniseries, we can change the labels of things gratuitously or for a purpose. There is noting wrong with Values, not a bit. Unfortunately, the language of values attract the common suspects of Honesty, Integrity, Teamwork and Accountability that are of the unhelpful type, because they also are of the type ‘difficult to disagree with’.
I have no problem with Value statements but my behavioural hat needs two things: one is behavioural translations and the other is beliefs translations.
The behavioural translations may find their way into ‘Non-negotiable behaviours’, the subject of Friday’s Daily Thought. The belief piece of the Steering system needs to articulate, err… beliefs! ‘We believe in Integrity, honesty and Team work’ is not a good articulation of beliefs. I believe in them too. I hope you do as well.
A core belief system may read like this (ignore either the stiffness or the laxity of the language, I’m not doing the literature for you, just showing the grammar).
- Several views on an issue are always better than a single one. ‘Nobody among us is smarter than all of us’. We believe in always bringing to the table diverse views and never making a decision on ‘single track’ thinking.
- Peer-to-peer engagement is a stronger engine of change in the organization. We believe in the power of bottom up activities as a better engagement of people.
- Self-management is a more sophisticated way of managing the organization. We believe in progressing towards self-management at pace that will suit us.
- For empowerment to work, we need people who want to be empowered.
- Looking at things exclusively short-term does not do any good for us. Killing long-term success by focusing on short-term success is nothing but blindness.
- Nothing is more important than safety, not profits, not timelines, not targets.
These are practical and real examples. Compare these ‘core beliefs’ with more traditional value explanations of the type I describe in a previous Daily Thoughts.
Again, this work on (a) belief systems, (b) non-negotiable behaviours, (c) organizational logic and (d) ‘space in the world’ is not something that can be done on the back of an envelop. I will require several iterations and a lot of critical thinking to avoid the simple playing with words. However, the effort is worthwhile.
Space in the world
As for the ‘Space in the world’, then concepts force us to go beyond the traditional mission and vision to articulate our uniqueness, if we can. To refer to the usual suspects, Apple occupies a ‘design space’ (more than a technology one); Google occupies ‘a data space’ (not just a search one); Amazon occupies a ‘customer space’, perhaps a ‘technology space’, not a store space. To continue with other suspects, Zappos has positioned itself in the ‘happiness’ space and progressing towards the ‘self-management’ space, much more than selling shoes or other merchandises. Valve may produce video games, but it has gained a position in the ‘self-management space’ as well, so is Morning Star, a producer of tomatoes in California, which receives visitors from all over the management world for anything but tomatoes.
I have given you a helicopter trip on something that requires an intercontinental flight. I am not even sure I have done any justice to the ideas, ideas very close to my heart and my daily consulting work as organizational architect.
I have tried to open a window to what may seem a simple change of words, and in reality is a totally different frame. I must leave it here or the risk of another helicopter ride will increase.
I am advocating these shifts:
From Mission and vision to finding your ‘Space in the World’ (Purpose)
From traditional Value systems to the articulation of Core Beliefs AND Non-Negotiable Behaviours
Adding Organizational Logic (Basic People Algorithm) underneath the traditional Governance
Putting all together as a Company Constitution.
Although this work has been going on for years, I am now packaging and accelerating these processes in a systematic way and in the shortest possible time.
The Chalfont Project – Your Organization Architects
Renew, transform, re-invent the way you do things. Organizations today need to look at better ways, alternative and innovative ways to change the status quo. It’s not about being radical for the sake of it. Only if you try radical ways will you be in a better position to find your ‘fit for purpose’ goals.
As Michelangelo said: ‘The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark’. He was a radical in the way we talk about it.
Contact The Chalfont Project team to find out how we can support your business.
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