Highly influenced by works that explain the decline of liberal values, I want to share with my readers five beliefs about organizations that many people in the west assume to be universal, but which are not shared outside the western world. (I, personally, define myself as a very liberal realist).
First, I want to share reading material which has provided me a view from the inside of the non-liberal mind: Strangers in their own land; Hillbilly Elegy, and The Righteous Mind. These works are essential to understanding the eco systems which have led to the decline of liberal values.
Getting back to organizations, many assumed beliefs held by HQ’s in the western world are not shared by most employees in Africa, the Mid East and Asia. The following beliefs are not inapplicable outside the western world, there are also grossly parochial.
- Openness and authenticity are the desired means of communication.
- Empowerment of and delegation to employees is welcomed by most employees.
- Facts need to be disclosed even if they are uncomfortable.
- Gender “equality” is something to be valued and striven for. The emphasis is on the use of the word equality.
- Leaving an organization for a better job/more pay, is fair and square, as long as contractual obligations are fulfilled.
In further posts I will elaborate, but for those eager beavers who cannot wait, I will elaborate now on #1.
Full emotional self control, maintaining an exterior veneer of restraint, and total avoidance of making the other feel uncomfortable are far more valued by far more people than the western liberal value of openness and authenticity, which put the individual before the group.
Openness and authenticity are seen in many places as rude, insulting and totally out of place. And this will not change. Ever.
And as far as delegation is concerned, read this.
What is an end to end perspective? What is its value?
Imparting an end- to-end understanding about how an organization operates is one of the most critical skills an employee needs. The marketer looks at the unique opportunity and market value creation, the system architect looks at the interfaces to client systems, the developer asks how will this can be built and how interesting it will be; finance looks at where the profit is and how to drive costs down and HR looks at how to keep key performers on board and recruit people to do the tasks.
When staff has an deep, empathetic, end to end understanding of how each role sees reality, there is far less friction, less politics, less managerial overhead and a smoother ride, even over stormy seas.
Yet end to end understanding is rare. In its lieu, escalation to management for decisions that fall between the cracks becomes the norm, bogging the organization down with severe constipation.
Why is an end to end understanding so rare in todays’ organizations?
- It is impossible to fully clarify roles and responsibilities due to the pace of business, which calls for role flexibility and inevitable role overlap. Yet there is incomprehensible effort made to define away complexity, creating false expectations that role and process clarity will make things run smoothly. Clearly a false prophecy.
- IT has enabled people not only to communicate quickly, but also to deflect responsibility forward and or backward on the work flow process. Huge email threads are needed to solve the simplest of issues as the problem gets passed like a hot potato, with each side attempting to lessen an ever growing workload, which itself stems from far too much communication.
- In order to overcome the bad attitudes, politics and ping-ponging, organizations try to recruit good team players and /or do surveys which feed back the issues to management and the troops. But the bad attitude and ping ponging stem from the organization’s IT business processes coupled with the expectation that complexity can be defined away.
How to impart an end to end understanding?
- A cross-mentor enables people from from one discipline to train people from another discipline how to look at reality.
- Lessons learned using an end to end methodology (which I have developed) enables debugging the organizational work flow, as opposed to only correctly the actual event that went astray.
- Buck passing, finger pointing and deflection should be discouraged. People should be enabled to take risks to get the job done, even if risk is involved since people may overstep their role into someone else’s domain.This is very hard to implement in organizations, but it is possible. For example, a check out cashier in a hotel may be empowered to drop charges from a mini bar it the client claims that he did not drink from the minibar. (In this case, the check-out cashier is focusing on creating client satisfaction, not minibar profit.)