This is a blog post that I wanted to write about for quite some time but always deferred it. It is on one hand quite an obvious one but on the other quite tricky as it touches on the management culture of practically all larger and medium sized companies. Only if you are in (well you know what I am talking (1) about ) things will be different and every employee’s input is not only requested but mandatory to make the startup venture a success.
Current status in your company
Currently the situation is as follows in practically all large companies: depending on ones responsibility in a company you provide your opinion to peers when being asked in company meetings or to your immediate manager. Same story when managers meet. We have a hierarchical decision making organization assuming that the people on top will make the right and best decisions. That this is an entirely flawed assumption you could read in an earlier blog post already.
What should be done differently?
I just finished watching the masterpiece movie Kingdom of Heaven from Ridley Scott once again on DVD (it’s one of my favorite movies), in my opinion the best movie about the crusades. In the movie one scene I think is an example of what modern companies should take into consideration as well. The surrounded Jerusalem is left alone to an army of soldiers and only one commander but with no knights. When the highest priest points this out to the commander (Balian de Ibelin, Orlando Bloom) that they could not fight without knights, the commander decides to make all soldiers to knights and with that give them total freedom and independence. Puzzled by this act the highest priest, not understanding, comments “will you alter the world, does making a man a knight make him a better fighter?” and Balian responds saying “Yes”.
Absolutely, it does make a difference if you feel not just serving some bigger corporate goal or entity but feel like you are in charge of what you can do best pretty much by yourself.
So what I am proposing is that companies leave the local decision making to the employees who know it best. Also call for their opinions on a regular basis using sophisticated idea management software. Armed with this the people will be motivated and provide much higher quality work than without.
In the movie they managed to achieve the practically impossible: defend the city and could negotiate excellent terms with Saladin, who had a huge army of 200k men, to walk away free and unharmed.
Now it must not be such a heroic Hollywood-style achievement but still there are plenty of decisions to be made daily that require motivated employees making a difference to their outcome. Enabling them and including them will make a difference that is pretty clear and will also make the difference if you have a highly motivated workforce or just one that does their required jobs. I am convinced that companies with highly motivated workforces will beat any other company regardless of their size or financial power.
(1) Silicon Valley of course