Charter for Change
"There are no great men, only great committees. That remark captures an unsettling truth about leadership today, particularly in business. In our bones we have a sense that our progress is in the hands of managers and tenders of the organizational machinery, not true leaders: people who know how to keep the trains running on schedule, but who cannot see beyond where the tracks are already laid. We will make no progress without the leaders and seers who can extend the tracks in new directions, we will merely travel around on the same route."
Richard Luecke, Scuttle your ships before advancing
Oxford University Press 1994
Mars, the Bringer of War
Change is good: everything must change. One thing we learn, when we are young, is that many things change. At work, we experience change. In fact throughout our lives, change is present - continuously.
Is change bad? Generally the reason change is seen or described as bad, is because we have little or no control over the change. In fact, is it ‘change’ itself, or is it the rate of change that causes pain? Change is typically acceptable for most people when it is controlled by that person. For example: We do not prevent ourselves from learning to drive. We do not stop ourselves from getting married because the change in lifestyle will hurt us. In both of these simple cases, the changes involved are in fact beneficial! - at least hopefully!
I firmly believe that change is good. In fact I feel this so strongly that I believe change is often good for its own sake. It does not matter if there is no reason to change: "If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it" is the quickest route to failure, being overtaken or beaten by someone else who did improve something that was performing acceptably. There is of course a risk. Life would not be fun at all without any form of risk. Changing for change sake may not always produce positive results. However, I believe that ALL experiences produce some effect that we can learn from. Even when the visible outcome may be worse than that prior to change, we can and should still learn from it.
But are we ready for change?
Our business at this company is about being first. It is not necessarily about being best. We certainly must do the best we can at what ever we do, but that is a given assumption. No one ever remembers "who came second". We have to be leaders. We have to dominate. We have to be the first. Second is nothing. Second is dead.
To be first, we must be faster and stronger than the competition. We must be more flexible, more capable than they are to cope with abnormalities. We must decide more effectively.As much as it is a competition between products, it is a competition between managers - between programmers - between every employee of the Division and that of our competitors.
When someone turns up for work at 9 am at our office, someone at our Competitors' turns up at 8 am. When 20 people leave work at 5 pm at our company, 20 people are still hard at work in Competitorsville. While we go home and watch TV, our enemy is striving ever harder to ensure that we don’t get a pay check next month. Our goal should always focus on customers. That is also a given assumption. But as much as that is our number one focus, our economic goal is to ensure that we protect our wage packets, and ensure that employees at competitive companies have a hard time. Economically, work and business is no play ground. It is war. It is survival of the fittest. Evolution is rife within business. The keenest eye, the surest path, the strongest hand, the unerring vision, are all part of the battle. We must employ the right resources, we must utilize the right tools. We are at war. We are not at play. We must ensure that it is we who take our pay checks home every week and month.
What about wage packets? Money motivates, right?
Money is a short term motivator. Everyone will do something for a price, but no one can afford to keep upping the price. However, money is certainly a de-motivator. Promising a bonus, and then delaying its payment can disrupt work patterns more readily than a day off sick.
Money is not a motivator. What people generally cherish at work, as well as in a social environment, is enrichment; recognition, praise and support. But not the out-of-character "Well Done" that may be heard some times. A real, honest recognition for the work effort put in. Recognition needs to be visible to all, so that all may share in the praise.
Enrichment is fundamental to growth. Few people like to pay for a plain meal at a fancy restaurant. Most people like a little variation in both the food that they eat as well as in the work that they do.
Management theorists had a field day in analyzing Ford. We all know about Fordism, and Taylorism, but do you remember the story about the mechanics turning up for work? Workers at Ford felt that management asked them, as they entered the factory every morning for work, to "drop off their brains on their way into work".
We work with fellow humans who have the same basic needs and wants as you and I. Why do we expect them to want things differently? Nobody likes to be ignored. Everyone, at some time or other, will have something to say. I once had an English Literature tutor who believed that everyone had at least one novel inside of them. This is an interesting idea, since it suggests that we are all capable of producing something fantastic and great, but only a small fraction of us actually achieve. Why is that?
Everyemployee of the Division (from VP to Secretary) will have a goal to attend ONE pre-sales presentation every quarter. If we have insufficient pre-sales presentations, every member of the Division shall attend at least one presentation in rotation.
"The Wider and deeper our experience, the greater our chances of recognizing ...familiar elements." Joseph Strayer, cited in Theodore S. Hamecrow, Reflections on History and Historians (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987)
A manpower plan will be established that will support those people who require and desire growth, via a continual movement through the cycle of "Customer Support; Production; Development; Design; Management". Each position will be held for a period of between 1 and 3 years. Training will be provided for technical, supervisory and management skills.
Venus, the Bringer of Peace
Is it true that advances in mankind are only achieved during peace time?
War in fact has a habit of forcing mankind to focus on processes and events more effectively than at any other time! During wartime, economic management takes on a whole new meaning. During the latter part of World War II, when Germany realized that victory was but a dream, economic production and output exceeded all historic levels. Relatively, no other year in comparison to 1944, ever produced such an increase in output! This type of example was consistent for virtually all participating nations. Yet today, western industrialized nations struggle to keep growth rates of 4% per year. Why is this? What magical formula is present during war that is lost during peace?
The answer is focus. Recognition that there is a common enemy and a common solution proves sufficient to ensure that people work effectively, together, as a team. In war time, no one is ever heard to say "that’s not my job". If that were ever heard, it would be heard on the losing side of the battle!
Although we are at peace in the military sense, we are caught up in the face of a blistering war with the other company. In fact the enemy is legion! There are many enemies whose goal in life is to ensure that you and I do not have a job to go to next week. We need to recognize that it is through work that we find life. To that effect , we must enjoy life. Certainly, we do not enjoy war. In our economic war with the enemy, we need troops that are happy. Unhappy troops perform less well. The force that has the happier army shall prevail.
In referring to happiness here I am referring to a work force that has direction and purpose. An army is more likely to follow a leadership that presents a united vision that takes them from ‘a’ to ‘b’. Leadership is fundamental to victory. No victory was ever achieved through negotiation or compromise, for by definition, that is what you get - a compromise. Remember Munich in 1939? Remember Neville Chamberlain’s "Peace in our time.".
In this military peace, they (the other company) wins at our own expense. We win at their expense. We win battles. We lose battles. How does that word sound: "lose."
It is a bad word - a word filled with cancerous death. Its a word that should never be uttered. Its a word that ensures starvation and weakness. We must talk the language of victory.
Reorganization: Change is good - no matter what. We shall re-organize our forces so as to align ourselves with customer needs. Customer support, production, development and design will, from now on, be focused on an application and/or application function. Additional resources will build the bridges between these groups. Management resources will be provided to communicate the common vision - the united front. Each group will be totally responsible to the customers themselves for their application. Every member of every team will attend or visit once a year a customer - either via our User Group or some other event - personally.
Walls: In our own sales presentations we talk of walls between customers and suppliers. We talk of barriers inhibiting the sharing of information within and without organizations. We seen to have forgotten our own message. Immediately, we must create a tidal wave of enthusiasm so as to blow every wall away within our own Division, and between other Divisions. No barrier shall prevail. Whenever we experience a barrier to success, we shall employ a tiered strategy to resolve the issues. As troops in the order of battle, we shall try to overcome the issue without even troubling management. If we do not overcome the issue, we shall enlist the support and ideas of our fellow troops. Should this be insufficient to resolve the conflict, we shall enlist more support from other divisions until all resources are focused on the conflict. Only after all these avenues are exhausted, shall we go to management with the issue. And in going to management with the issues, we must also present a workable solution for approval. No issues can be presented without a proposed solution that spells its doom. The walls must come down.
The greatest man-made wall in contemporary history came down over 5 years ago, in Berlin. We have nothing to fear in removing our own internal walls.
"Leaders are by nature at the center of action, where opposing forces collide and where sparks fly. They are the ones who get things done by pointing the way to others; it is from them that we can learn most. There is a great hunger for leadership today, perhaps because we observe it so rarely." Richard Luecke, Scuttle your ships Before advancing, Oxford University Press, 1994.
Empowerment: Every staff member who seeks responsibility will receive it, along with the necessary accountability and authority to execute that task. Financial responsibility will flow down to the lowest level of the organization that exhibits an ability to make sound judgments in the area of financial expenditure and investment.
There is another side to peace. We all yearn for the simplest, easiest life. Even the honey-bee, that toils for hours at a time looking for honey, yearns for the same simple life as the ever slower tortoise. Even the high-flying executive seeks the same, basic, quiet life that every shop-floor worker seeks.
For us as a technology company, we have to realize the operating constraints in being a leading technology company. We cannot remain a ‘following’ technology company - because these types of companies do not ‘remain’ for long. Assuming we will strive for leadership then, we must accept that everything we do will be ‘leading edge’. We will always make mistakes when on the leading edge. We may not always have a procedure in place for every event. We may be late in promises to our customers, internal or external. The key issues is not the fact that something is late. The real issue is if the being late is acceptable.
If we can sit back and relax when completing something late, over and over again, then we are doomed. For every person from our company who accepts frailty and failure, there are two competitor people who do not accept it. The key issue here is that we need to nurture a culture where mistakes can occur from time to time, but where we strive to eliminate them.
Enthusiasm and involvement can, in many cases, fill in where technical knowledge is weak. But when I say enthusiasm, I do not say this lightly. I mean wholehearted, 110%, over the top committed to change and improvement. I mean staying an extra 20 minutes every night to complete the shipment to the customer. I mean solving problems in teams and groups without ever having to go to the boss to complain about it.
Our work is chaotic. We will be late. We will make mistakes. But we can only afford to accept these things for the right reasons. Today, we appear first to accept them. Then we compound the mistake by accepting them for the wrong reasons. We remain impassioned over change. We remain cold to the need to radically improve everything we do by a factor of 200%. Doubling our efforts without change simply gets us nowhere, quicker! We must double our efforts and change our direction. We must act now, not next week, or next month. We must take time out to change now: before the enemy can change our pay slips.
We have to come to accept chaos as part of our daily routine. We have to plan to cope with it. We also need to plan for a period of peace - every day. We have to slow up, remain calm, and realize that truly, ever problem IS an opportunity to impress someone. And when the opportunity comes to impress a customer, all types of customers, we must grasp it with both hands and love it - caress it - and achieve. And if we do not, remember that there are many people at our Competitor, who are doing just that.
Remember – the enemy have a goal of preventing you and me from taking our pay checks and eating.
Mercury, the Winged Messenger
Goals are important. Objectives are important. Strategies, tactics and purposes are also important. Which is more important.
None of them are more important than others.
It does matter which word you select, and what meaning you append to it, and it does matter that you agree, communicate and achieve. If it is goals we need, than let us create forward looking, achievable goals. If it is objectives you want, than let us create forward looking, achievable objectives.
Agree. Communicate. Achieve.
We are all stakeholders in humanity. As advances are made in nature and science, so we all assume that we (or maybe our children) will benefit. We all have a part to play in ensuring that humanity lives and grows strong. In those goals, the majority of men and woman are likely to agree. (At least that was true until you include politicians and extremists!!) At work however, our interests are more focused. We are stakeholders in our company. Without our company, we would be out of a job - and seeking a pay check elsewhere. If we went out of business, we would suffer. Our families will suffer. Our children will suffer.
It is also interesting to realize that employees of our competitors are in a similar position. Without their own companies, they too would suffer. Their husbands and wives - children and all would suffer. Is it no wonder then, that we are at war? As stakeholders, we must therefore play our part - or expect to suffer the consequences.
The Divisional Mission will be set, reviewed and signed-off, on an annual basis. The Mission will be a statement of the overall purpose of an organization. (Six) Guiding principles will be used to set the foundation for how the Division will operate. Goals will be set, by each team, for each team, that define, broad long-term aims. These goals will be set in order to define the accomplishment of the Mission. Objectives will be used to support each goal.
Objectives will be specific, quantifiable, realistic targets that measure the accomplishment of a goal over a specific period of time. Strategies will be employed in order (how) to achieve a goal. Monthly meetings will review performance of goal achievement.
One assumption we can always take for granted: we will always proceed an undertaking with insufficient intelligence.
Involvement: Messages do not always come from the top. Often times, the most successful companies are based on the foundations of a good, vibrant, strong, working team. We shall involve every member of staff in the decision making process. This will not be achieved by simply asking everyone for their ideas once a quarter at Divisional Meetings. This will be achieved by laying out a framework of operation, that describes our vision, our direction, our management and war plan for the future. When everyone knows the way we are headed, everyone will have an opinion worth listening to. There is little point asking everyone for their opinion of a "no plan" plan. We need a real plan. with vision, direction, goals and objectives. We shall then ask every member of staff as to whether they wish to take a stake in our Divisional vision and direction. All members of staff who want to become a stakeholder, will them be nominated as "stakeholders." As stakeholders, everyone has a right to voice an opinion over direction. Every one can contribute to the vision and direction. Every idea proposed shall be seen by every stakeholder. Ownership will become implicit in our vision. The vision will be a stakeholder vision.
Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity
No one will stay at a job or position long, if they do not get some personal reward: albeit recognition, praise or something else. The working environment is a contributing factor to how effective we are at work. Clean offices are better than dirty offices; up to date technology that works is more productive than out of date stuff.
If we are not striving, every day with all our might, to better ourselves and better our work environment, then we shall fail. It is our responsibility to ensure that our office is clean and tidy. We are fully responsible for our own behavior. We cannot blame management, or anybody else, for limitations and barriers that we erect on the false assumption that they hold us back. In facing problems, we must always go to a supervisor or manager with a proposed solution.
Why should we expect a manager or supervisor to have answers to everything? Managers and supervisors rarely get to where they are on solving problems! Promotion, when it has been rewarded for proper reasons, is often conferred on those who have made great achievements - such as great financial results - or increased revenue. Rarely is a manager made a manager for their ability to manage. ‘Management’ itself was not seen as a ‘function’ in its own right until the last 10 years or so. Almost always the word ‘management’ was appended to a business function. No matter where you work, there will always be someone ‘above’ you who you may despise. That is a fact of life. The trick to "getting things done through people," is to know the people in question, understand their needs, and to provide a solution. Most managers and supervisors will listen to a problem if there is a suggested solution to follow. If you only provided millions of reasons why you cannot achieve your goal, you will face one additional problem that involves pink paper! And if you are not provided with that pink slip, eventually the waterfall of insoluble problems will overtake the company. For every person at our company who says that a problem cannot be solved, there are three at our Competitors who have solved theirs!
Egypt: In building the first pyramid, the workers did not give up at the daunting trial of erecting stone upon stone into an unheard of and previously unseen structure. No problem is too great. Any one who says that problems are unsolvable probably draw additional pay checks from competitor companies.
Our children are often made or kept happy with the simplest of things. Why should it be that different for us at work. In some ways, there is little difference between children and adults: at 16 years old our interests are different to that of a 36 year old. But neither one, the child nor adult, will address a given problem in different ways. Each will address the problem with different tools, but the principle here is that, given a certain problem, and limited by the knowledge and ability determined by the age gap, both will attempt to solve a problem with enthusiasm first.
Frustration may follow - perhaps sooner for the child! Either way, there is little difference at this level of analysis.
In this case we should be more accommodating to people’s needs. Quality is not measured on "lines of code per hour". In the 1970’s, ‘piece work’ or ‘piece rates’ fell out of favor on the shop-floor. This was because those companies with great "output" levels were producing the wrong product - or the right product at the wrong quality. Output needs to be measured on "Bug free lines of code per hour."
We can take the manufacturing scenario further. Quality assurance used to occur at the end of a line - after all the errors and mistakes had already been applied to the product. It took the manufacturing industries about 40 years to realize that savings could be made and competitive advantage achieved, if we assured quality during the manufacturing process. Software is no different.
The QA department will be disbanded immediately. Quality will now be the responsibility of every Team member to assure. Team members will review the quality of the work effected by other teams. The QA Managers and Directors will review the quality of the management of the teams. Quality shall be embedded within the product from cradle to grave. The final QA process will become, from this day forward, a simple task to perform with little resource and effort.