We all fantasize but the object of our fantasy is seldom an organization, an ideal one, the one we would create for us to work in if we were king. Of course, if we were king–or queen–we wouldn’t be worrying about working, but I digress.
Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones reported in the May 2013 issue of HBR the results of surveying hundreds of executives about their ideal organization. You can download a podcast of them on this. They uncovered six elements of an enterprise that operates at its fullest capacity by allowing its people to do their best work. The six are:
- Individual differences are nurtured
- Information is not suppressed or spun
- The organization adds value to its employees
- It stands for something
- The work is intrinsically rewarding
- No stupid rules
Looking at this list I see a two primary themes.
First, a degree of control must be relinquished and some lack of order and conformity tolerated. You see this in #’s 1, 2, and 6. You honor differences, trust that others will act responsibly and that your transparency (#2) will not be abused. This is not easily done because it requires both management to loosen the reins and staff to operate with integrity.
Second, the work is affirming, enriching, and uplifting for the employees (#’s 3, 4, and 5). And this flows out to the clients and communities who receive value from the enterprise, the legacy it leaves. Not only do the employees development and do interesting work that challenges them, but they also get to work for a cause that is bigger than them (#4).
“No stupid rules” is a tricky one. The trick is to find a balance between procedures that systemizatize repeated processes but don’t stifle creativity in aid of bureaucracy.
Hey, I know that in toto this organization is a dream but it’s made up of some very real aspirations from a wide range of very real executives. Worth thinking about as you do whatever you can at your level to make your workplace a better one.