The Strategist

A corporate culture to boost creativity in your company

04/13/2017 - 15:25

An overwhelming number of organizations use this "old but gold" scheme: a leader who manages, and subordinates who submit. To continue the tautology, then an employee of such a company, when asked "What do you do at work?", will answer: "I do my job". We became so used to the existing order of things that we do not even think about it. Could it be any different?

Yes. Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey in their book "An Everyone Culture" tells about a modern type of companies - organizations of conscious development, where everything seems strange an inconvenient. 

So, what happens in ordinary companies? The higher your official position is, the more respectful you are and the less often criticized in person. Yet, the problem is that decisions taken "up there" are not discussed "down there" - they are obligatory for implementation. At the same time, if an employee does not openly criticize the ideas of the authorities, this does not mean that they share opinion of their management.

Often there is a situation that abundance of such ideas, which employee do not completely understand, obscures the job’s meaning. So it turns out that the employee simply "works", that is, mechanically fulfills the tasks set by the boss.

There is no place for personal growth of employees in such a system.

Now, let’s talk about personal growth. In the era of the industrial revolution, economists (in particular, Karl Marx) believed that there were two ways to raise profits: to increase the working day and reduce wages. This idea still flourishes in heads of many leaders, yet modern are quite conditions different.

Several countries and the United Nations have created an index of gross national happiness. People want to receive new types of income: personal satisfaction from work, a sense of meaning and the value of their work. Happiness, in particular, is composed of these components.

The salary cannot be reduced forever, and it is not possible to work more than 24 hours a day. Therefore, new reserves for increasing profits hide in inner potential of workers. This is a very deep idea with truly unlimited prospects because it does not have any temporary or accounting restrictions.

The organizations of conscious development implement this approach.

We hide our disagreement with the authorities, conceal incompetence, pretend to be successful employees, support an artificial image among colleagues - and spend a lot of energy on this. Multiply these human joules by the number of employees, and you will receive a catastrophic loss on creativity, which could be used for the benefit of every employee and the whole company.
An employee of a typical organization thinks: "If people find out about my weaknesses, it will turn out to be a disaster for me." However, thinking changes radically in organizations of conscious development: "If I show people my weaknesses, then most likely I will learn something and will benefit greatly from this". 

At the same time, inferiors can give friendly advice and tips, discuss the manager’s ideas and disagree with their opinion. And they should always be open to objective criticism. Thus a special psychological space is created, in which even acute discussions of burning issues are held in an atmosphere of mutual support and sincerity.

Here are main features of organizations of the new type:

•    People are valued for their ability to recognize their weaknesses and mistakes.
•    Corporate culture accepts a person entirely (their life is not divided into work and all that is outside of it)
•    Employees are not afraid to differ from others
•    The official position does not give the person the usual advantages (the criticism from below is encouraged)

This approach helps realize hidden resources of the collective. As the book’s authors remarked wittily, "our weaknesses are a Klondike, you just need to dig". If the work seems not very meaningful to employees, they try to do other things. But when we see our personal growth, we acquire real values in the form of a long-term and sustainable sense of satisfaction with life that cannot be obtained from money. Cash is also important, but this is a completely different story.   

based on 'An Everyone Culture. Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization' by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey