I am not a magician. Far from it. Albeit my “in your face” style, I tend to be very realistic in my approach to managing and mitigating organizational pain,foremost by creating appropriate expectations. My interactions with Ed will demonstrate how this is done.
Ed called me a month ago; we had 6 conversations. In our first meeting, Ed described the reason he had approached me “Allon, I want your help to install a sense of personal responsibility in order to grow our company by 7% per quarter for the next year”.
Ed’s company is in a high growth area, so his growth goals were not all that bizarre. What was totally misguided was his desire to enhance the sense of “personal ownership”.
Personal ownership is counter-indicated to achieving aggressive growth. I told him as such and explained.
“Ed, when aggressive growth goals are set, the major concern of staff at all levels is “what do these goals mean for me”? For example the developers do not want to release sloppy code; account managers do not want to deal with angry clients who feel that they have been duped. Customer service wants scripts to solve client problems and product marketing wants to maintain a stable product road map.
Aggressive growth is achieved by trading off the maximalistic goals and wet dreams of each function/profession to create a runway that enables a fast take off for growth. It’s all about trade offs, compromise, sharing of risks, not ownership of a subset of goals.”
I explained to Ed how a enhanced sense of personal ownership in the context of aggressive growth will drive managers to set very high standards for their respective functions, and subsequently to refuse to negotiate pragmatic trade offs/compromise. And worst of all, a culture of blaming and finger pointing will thrive.
As a result of our conversations, Ed went offsite with his team with me to discuss “how do we share risks?”
By setting appropriate expectations up front, the intervention was shorter (less commercially viable) and very effective..But I built a reputation with Ed, and that will pay off over the coming years, if I am still around.
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