energizing breakthrough performance

The Shared-Fate Culture: Motivation X Ability = Performance

Author: ; Published: Mar 29, 2012; Category: Cross-Functional Teams, Matrix Management, Strategic Planning; Tags: None; One Comment»

What’s a pragmatic definition of organizational culture? It’s what employees think and do when the boss isn’t looking. In large organizations, there’s the culture and then there are often plenty of subcultures. This leads to the leadership question: Why can’t we operate as one company? What can be done about splintered or disjointed hand-offs? At minimum, to operate as one company requires that employees understand that their fates are linked together inextricably.

 Strengthening the shared-fate culture is essential to effective matrix management or other networked approaches to accomplishing the mission. The shared-fate culture is also necessary for developing seamless strategic alliances or partnering arrangements with other organizations. Your partners can’t work effectively with your organization if they are becoming frustrated about which one of the “Seven Faces of Eve” they are seeing.

One way of describing the shared-fate culture is as a “collaborative community.” Another synonym is the notion of “organizational alignment.” However, to achieve a shared-fate culture, collaborative community, or organizational alignment requires that win-win behaviors trump zero-sum behaviors in your enterprise. Sound like a cliché? If we merely talk about it, it is a cliché – one that is much easier said than done.  Making real change is heavy lifting, akin to teaching the proverbial elephant to dance.

Beyond high-altitude exhortations about why the shared-fate culture or the “one-firm concept” is so essential lies the hard-nosed reality that Performance = Motivation X Ability.  In other words, people not only need to have the ability to collaborate, they must be motivated to collaborate, feeling in their gut that this is in their individual as well as collective best interests.  Conceptual training alone cannot achieve necessary change, and jingoism certainly won’t get it done.   Few individuals will disagree intellectually that all employees share the common fate of the enterprise – at least not openly.  The Kumbaya moments are free, but translating this intellectual understanding into daily action is the only thing that matters.

Changes in values and behavior are essential as is heightened motivation to do things differently.  Changes in behavior precede changes in culture, not vice versa.  Shared strategies for managing “hot intersections” where cross-functional hand-offs occur are also essential if fractures, fumbles, fizzles and foibles are to be averted. Also, weaving a web of explicit, value-adding interdependency among key players is necessary for success. And there’s even more to it than that.

Strategic Futures has created an exciting and powerful one-day program called Building the Shared-Fate Culture to help your organization transform itself into a collaborative community.  The program is both motivational and instructional, rather than just one or the other. Overcoming entrenched organizational defense mechanisms requires both skill and grit. Please contact info@strategicfutures.com to learn more about how we can help.

Share These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Print
  • email
  • blogmarks
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Mixx
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • YahooBuzz

Matrix Management and Collaborative Communities

Author: ; Published: Mar 28, 2012; Category: Cross-Functional Teams, Matrix Management; Tags: , , , , ; No Comments»

 

Matrix management presupposes collaborative communities, both within our organizations and among them when they are involved in strategic alliances and other multi-firm endeavors. Indeed, academic contributors are emphasizing the need to develop and nurture collaborative communities within your organization before you seek to form collaborative communities with external partners.  Structurally, this is what I call the “multi-organization matrix” requiring that matrix management be well-practiced in each of the participating enterprises prior to linkage.

A matrix management success factor involves the nurturing of a “shared-fate culture” which both reflects and fosters collaboration among people and the functions they deliver. The successful shared-fate culture requires a clear set of values which promote teamwork and trust. The shared-fate culture presupposes that employees be both willing and able to cooperate with one another. Caution: This condition must not be assumed but instead must be cultivated consciously. 

The oft-overlooked challenge in transforming towards collaborative communities is to avoid fostering a “group think” culture where conformity always trumps creativity. Indeed, a continuum of personalities must be factored. As one example, some employees may be “Dark Angels.” Dark Angels are often high producers who are viewed as significant assets by management precisely because their hard work leads to results, time after time.  However, at the darkest end of this personality continuum such individuals can be more feared than trusted by their colleagues.  Dark Angels can have a poisonous effect upon the formation of a collaborative community, let alone the shared-fate culture. Without reverting to the “cranky genius” caricature, it’s not unheard of for creativity to be accompanied by some anger and/or alienation.  The leadership challenge is to find the right balance where collaboration does not degenerate into quasi-robotic conformity and ensure simultaneously that creativity is heightened rather than stifled. In other words, let’s keep everyone awake – conscious and creative. 

I consult in many environments, particularly R&D but not exclusivel,  where this delicate balance between creativity and community is a near-constant dynamic tension, which must be managed carefully. Pursuing our example, the iconic Dark Angel may harbor disdain for peers, subordinates, and top management. In the end, such disdain limits professional impact and, ultimately, professional advancement – thereby adding to this anger and alienation which will eclipse creativity in the end. We do not assist the Dark Angel, the organization nor ourselves when we fail to coach the Dark Angel into the collaborative community we seek to build. However, we must coach this talent in a way which strengthens rather than weakens their creativity, and which encourages them to participate collaboratively by being themselves – but in a way which permits acceptance of them for who they are and for who they are becoming by the community into which they have been integrated.  A tall order—but it can be done.  Although the Dark Angel is our example for this posting, these principles apply to us all, regardless of where we sit on any chosen continuum of personalities.  Getting to creative and successful collaborative communities requires more than platitudinous exhortations and wishful thinking.  Getting the job done requires genuine leadership, management and careful coaching.

 

Share These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Print
  • email
  • blogmarks
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Mixx
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • YahooBuzz