Results vs. recommendations: How an organization's expectations reveal its culture

Years back I worked as an editor for the now-defunct Red Hat Magazine. While our circulation numbers were respectable, the department head wanted to see a sizable increase. In most companies, I would have been asked to do some research and present a publishing plan or a report on how to improve the numbers. Perhaps a consultant would have assisted. The resultant ideas would have been discussed, vetted, approved, shot down, and at some point (in some form) (probably) implemented.

But at an open source company, things roll a bit differently. My team was given a simple task: Increase the number of readers. We were expected to come up with strategies to make that happen while remaining true to the editorial vision of the magazine, but the department head wasn't particularly interested in hearing about our plans. He just wanted to see the numbers. Every month.

Talk about pressure. We quickly realized that ideas and plans and reports are simple to generate; results are not. » Read more

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