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Doug Kirkpatrick on Transforming Organisations Towards Empowered Self-Organising Teams

| Podcast with Doug Kirkpatrick Follow 0 Followers by Shane Hastie Follow 11 Followers on Feb 13, 2017 |

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This is the Engineering Culture Podcast, from the people behind InfoQ.com and the QCon conferences.

In this podcast Shane Hastie, InfoQ Lead Editor for Culture & Methods, spoke to Doug Kirkpatrick, organisational change expert, author and advocate for new ways of working.   

Key Takeaways

  • Decentralization is replacing hierarchy and bureaucracy.  Organisations need to be directly connected to the outside world and agilely adapt to changes in their ecosystems
  • The idea of people managing other people will fade and be replaced by people connecting to a mission and meaning, and managing themselves in the same way they manage themselves in their lives
  • Mandating a change is command and control in a different guise – people need to be part of the change and opt in to be part of the changed organisat
  • Two simple, yet profound, principles:
    • No use of force – abandon command and control authority
    • People keep commitments that they make
  • Speaking up when something seems wrong is a crucial self-managing competency.  If you choose not to speak up about a particular issue, you have chosen to tolerate it

0m:32s - Introductions

1m:10s - The dynamic transformations taking place in workplaces today

2m:38s - Big changes are happening which impact the future of work   

2m:45s - Decentralization replacing hierarchy and bureaucracy.  Organisations need to be directly connected to the outside world and agilely adapt to changes in their ecosystems

3m:25s - Example of Tesla responding to a Twitter request and translating it into action within six days

4m:05s - Self-organization and self-management goes hand-in-hand with decentralization

4m:37s - We live in a world of light speed communication and ubiquitous information which means old management styles are no longer appropriate  

5m:05s - The idea of people managing other people will fade and be replaced by people connecting to a mission and meaning, and managing themselves in the same way they manage themselves in their lives

5m:43s - The definition of management hasn’t changed much in 150 years

6m:10s - We don’t need to manage people – rather connect them to a purpose, give them adequate resources to fulfil the mission and trust them to manage themselves

6m:25s - If people know what to do and how to do it, why would they need a manager to direct their activities?

7m:00s - This is not something that is comfortable or easy to do – we’re fighting biology

7m:25s - Exerting power and authority releases dopamine which results in some people becoming addicted to power

7m:45s - Adopting change starts with declaring an intent and sticking with it

7m:55s - Bold leaders relinquish command authority and identify stewardship, process accountabilities and missions for people to take accountability themselves

8m:30s - This takes knowledge and understanding; leaders need to learn about what it takes, attend conferences and events and meet with others who are undertaking the same types of changes to share ideas and experiences

9m:10s - It’s not enough to just declare this is what we’re going to do- we need to understand why we’re doing it and what we aim to accomplish by doing so

9m:35s - How to communicate this idea to the whole organisation

9m:50s - It’s really important to involve people in the change; social technologies such as Open Space can help 

10m:40s - Unless we involve people in the change, the process is likely to fail

11m:15s - Some people do just want to be told what to do and be left alone, and there is room for them in a self-managed enterprise.  Make their circumstances voluntary

12m:10s - Mandating a change is command and control in a different guise – people need to be part of the change

12m:35s - The example of Zappos and losing 30% of their workforce.  Find a pathway that works for your organisation culture

13m:30s - What it feels like to be a part of a self-managing organisation.  The story of Morningstar’s adoption of self-management

14m:10s - Two simple, yet profound, principles:

  • No use of force – abandon command and control authority
  • People keep commitments that they make

16m:10s - Hire for adaptability, rather than for fit or skills

16m:35s - A self-managed mindset is crucial for success

17m:10s - How Morningstar interviews and hires based on adaptability, self-management, determination & grit, willingness to speak up, the lack of power-distance mentality and emotional & social intelligence factors 

18m:10s - People interview and hire their peers which results in more thoughtful hiring decisions

19m:22s - How this works in high power-distance national cultures 

19m:45s - The example of Haaier in China, which converted the entire workforce into approx. 4000 self-managed, multi-disciplined teams who have end-to-end responsibility for their products

21m:40s - What happens when people don’t do their best work – how to handle issues of performance, integrity and disagreement

22m:25s - Example from Morningstar of the Gaining Agreement protocol and the multi-step process to gain agreement

23m:35s - Speaking up when something seems wrong is a crucial self-managing competency.  If you choose not to speak up about a particular issue, you have chosen to tolerate it

24m:50s - Drucker: one of the crucial competencies of an effective executive is the ability to speak up

25m:25s - The challenge of career advancement in a system without career ladders.  The way to improve one’s value to others is to find ways to become more effective at what one does

26m:26s - The responsibility for growth lies within the individual

26m:50s - Example of the Morningstar Pathway which starts with finding a willing mentor who will work with you to move from your current state to a desired future state

28m:50s - Responding to external change which requires making strategic decisions.  Decision rights with different types of decisions given to people who have skills in strategic thinking

30m:10s - Even creating new businesses is acceptable- it starts with selling the idea to others

30m:45s - It takes time to transform – at least a year is needed for a small company to change to the new way of working

31m:45s - Self-management is a competitive advantage- doing the maths to show the cost savings

34m:30s - What it would take for a government department or large public organisation to change to this way of working

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