- “So it comes down to knocking out some walls, and encouraging others to do the same. You’ve seen what this old method can do, so get it out of the way to let new ideas work some magic for a little while…Until, of course, it’s time to trash that for whatever is next.” – Hugh MacLeod
Dresses aren’t the only things to trash in the spirit of creativity according to the witty depicted wisdom of Gapingvoid. This ethos is essential to avoid the sclerotic rot of creeping bureaucracy.
I remember my time with the big company of Microsoft who, like many organisations, always had an annual employee survey. That wasn’t the only way to solicit feedback from staff. Another major one was 1:1s with your manager. This set up is like a viral mechanism for organisational metastasis where every round of feedback provided fresh fuel for new projects and administration.
The accreted processes and tasks just keep piling up. Someone suggests that coordination with another department is difficult and the next thing you know, a task force to examine interdepartmental cooperation is set up and coming up with even more things for people to do. More boxes to tick out of due diligence that no one really cares about. So what does one do to avoid this gravitational pull of complexity?…
- Just say no – One way to break this circle is for the Company/Manager to act on the feedback…by saying ‘no’. Embracing the failure of feedback. Just because it is given, doesn’t mean that it necessarily has to be institutionalised. It is okay, in fact it is more than okay, to decline to act on feedback. One must do this without being defensive or in denial. Reviewing the feedback thoroughly (so the giver knows it has been heard and actively considered) and then providing a thorough, cogent response shows as much respect as nodding politely and routinely implementing some ill-considered half-measure. In fact more. But not every good idea passes the threshold for a company-wide campaign.
- Seek clarification – Very often someone will provide vague feedback like ‘there’s not enough collaboration’. So the manager goes and sets up a ‘Collaboration Monthly Meeting’. When what the staff really wanted was teleconferencing software.
- Stop doing something – Per Hugh’s inspiration, for every new initiative to start doing, identify something to stop doing. Something out-dated, or of less impact than originally hoped.
Leaders start needed initiatives; Managers stop unneeded make-work.