There are innovative organizations that most of us find inspiring because on the inside, they're essentially passionate communities. But what do companies like Google, Red Hat, IDEO, Apple, 3M, and W.L. Gore have in common? And what defines a community of passion, anyway?
Over the past few months, I've been engaged in a Management Hackathon with a few folks you might recognize from opensource.com and some other members of the Management Innovation eXchange (MIX), an online community started by Gary Hamel.
We set out to learn about communities of passion. We believed that inside these communities, we would find out how to make other organizations more collaborative, innovative, and fit for human workers.
We especially wanted to know what was preventing the ordinary organization from becoming a community of passion. As we soon discovered, there are numerous barriers that most organizations will have to overcome. Here's an example of a barrier we uncovered:
Cumbersome systems, too much bureaucracy
When the systems in place are too cumbersome or there is too much bureaucratic “red tape” in an organization, it literally saps the motivation out of the individuals and teams by impeding their creativity and flow—reducing passion, productivity, and, eventually, profitability.
Yet we knew that most organizations are unwilling or unable to rebuild themselves from the ground up. So we worked together to develop innovative "hacks" that can make our organizations more hospitable for communities, like this one:
Make everyone accountable for removing time-sucking systems
...One place to begin is by tying the compensation, rewards, and recognition of managers to not just how well their team performs financially, but also how successfully each manager eliminates the layers of bureaucracy that stop their teams from getting even more work done more quickly.
To be successful, this effort will require a lightweight, “bottom-up” way to rate how well managers are doing at removing bureaucratic processes. The ratings that come from this survey should be directly tied to management compensation at all levels of the organization. Managers that perform well at removing unnecessary bureaucracy as reported by those below them in the organization should be rewarded for their efforts, while those who do not would miss out on this portion of their compensation…
After much collaboration and many hours of work, we assembled a report (pdf) about what we've learned. It covers both the Hackathon process and our findings, and we worked with a designer to make it an easy, informative read--perfect to share with the decision-makers in your organization.
To learn more about Management 2.0, communities of passion, and collaboration in business, visit the MIX and check out some of the other articles we've published on the subject:
- Can an open, collaborative approach still work when not everyone has opted in?
- Bob Young on Lulu and collaborative innovation
- Great minds don't think alike: Diversity in your collaboration
- Rethinking office design
- Five questions about building community with Chris Blizzard of Mozilla
- Collaboration is hard work: Planning for today's teams
- Maslow's hierarchy of (community) needs
- Dialing the right mix: open source principles and collaboration