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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 then other is beliefs translations.

The behavioural translations may find their way into ‘Non-negotiable behaviours’, the subject of yesterdays Daily Thoughts. 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 of us is smarter than all of us’. We believe in always bringing to the table diverse views and never make decision on a ‘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 to 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 in 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 forces 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 form all over the management world for anything but tomatoes.

I have done a helicopter trip on something that requires an intercontinental flight. I am not even sure I have done any justice to the ideas of the last days, 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 Organisational 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.

 I am not convinced I have articulated well this ‘miniseries’ of the last 4 Daily Thoughts on Structure and the Steering of the Organization in 2015. And I am quite frustrated about it. I have open some windows. I’ll be back on these themes at some point.


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