“Earlier this year, an employee wanted to send a customer a T-shirt with our logo as a gift. There was nothing special about this particular shirt. It was an ordinary, 100% cotton crew neck. But by the time this employee got approval—factoring in his own time and everyone else’s up the org chart who had to weigh in before signing off on the request—the cost of this t-shirt had ballooned to at least $200.”
Many organizations today are trying to hedge against inflated processes like these by changing their organizational structures. Hootsuite, for example, appointed a “Czar of Bad Systems” to help improve internal processes.
In today’s rapidly-evolving business environment, growing organizations need to remain fast and efficient. And some large, geographically dispersed and complex organizations seem to be able to maintain a level of agility despite their size.
Agile Working has become the buzzword for how to turn your business into a thriving, creative and productive hub while attracting and retaining the best talent. It’s moving from flexible working to smarter working. And it does what it says if you follow the recipe.
Agile Working was originally created by Toyota to get production lines moving faster. It gives people the ability to work in various locations to complete the tasks necessary to do their jobs. Specific desks do not exist – you can work from a collaborative space, a breakout area, home, a café, or wherever benefits the task at hand. And employees are supported with practices and processes that allow them to be agile. Agile Working makes work seem less gray and more technicolor. It’s enticing, exciting and human. And it works.
The human mind has an incredible capacity to learn, recognize patterns, and connect pieces of information together to find new ways to approach old problems.
Unfortunately, our problem-solving abilities are limited by individual knowledge and experience. When problems are large and complex, we might not have the right data available to have any hope of finding a solution if we go it alone. And when we get stuck, collaboration can be a powerful way to find the best solution.
By sharing knowledge and experience amongst a diverse group, we can often tackle complex problems that cannot be solved alone.
As any business expands — either domestically or internationally — it can be a challenge to maintain a consistent company culture. Communication might suddenly need to bridge time zones, and messages will need to stay consistent despite language or cultural barriers. An expansion can affect organizational design and the centralization of resources, potentially making employees feel detached.
It’s funny how things go in cycles. What was critically important to us last year may not be a concern to us today. And things we used to take for granted, we now cannot fathom living without.
Think about the Internet. Most of us weren’t even aware of it until the mid 90’s, but where would we be today without it? Although I type here from the comfort of my office chair, my office is at home and I rarely need to venture into NYC thanks to technology. My office material comes from Amazon.com and my calls are handled over a VOIP platform. All driven by the web.
Knowledge management is a similar area you’ve probably never paid attention to. Maybe you haven’t heard about it yet, but knowledge management is already affecting how you live and work.
My youngest daughter is a skateboarder. With her, I’ve spent a fair amount of time at skateboarding events and at skate parks. While I’ve been wowed many times by bold and amazing stunts, I’ve also noticed one thing: skateboarders fall. A lot. Pros, beginners, veterans and young rippers all hit the deck. Mount a GoPro on their helmet and the courage factor goes way up but it still doesn’t keep them from falling. Here’s the thing: they almost always bounce right back up.
Why is that? Well, for one thing, they (sometimes) wear protection. Mostly though, their ability to jump back on the board uninjured is because they know how to fall. In skateboarding, knowing how to fall (or fail) is part and parcel to knowing how to continue to push to achieve new tricks (or success).
“Knowing how to fall is, like, a basic life skill,” one skateboarder told me. “If I didn’t know how to fall, I wouldn’t be able to learn new tricks either.”
If you’ve been in the workforce for at least three years, you have likely had at least one annual performance review (unless of course, you work for a firm that has abandoned the practice). As I began to draft this article, I was curious about what my colleagues had experienced in their annual reviews. Their stories are below:
With the start of the new year behind us, now is a great time to get your house in order from an operations viewpoint. You still need to do all the usual tasks (close the books, update payroll and 401K information, etc.), but should also have on your to-do list tasks like re-visit your employee handbook and take another look at your internal processes.
It’s a cultural icon. The red, plastic “Easy Button” that Staples first introduced as part of a marketing campaign in 2005.
It’s not at all uncommon for me find these buttons throughout my clients’ offices. In fact, in the last decade, the office-supply retailer has reportedly sold more than $7.5 million worth of Easy Buttons.
The Easy Button serves as a symbol, acknowledging the frustrations and challenges of small business. It’s also a statement about Staple’s responsibility to make things easier for their customers.
They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. But that would be a wild mistake if applied to this circumstance. If you’re a business leader or entrepreneur intent on staying competitive in the years to come, you’d best pay close attention.