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Revolutions Don't Begin On Full Stomachs

 

Those who were fortunate enough to attend the MIXMashup, were treated to three general themes to start the day: The End of Hierarchy, The End of Bureaucracy, and The End of the Employee.

Terri Kelly from W.L. Gore tackled the End of Hierarchy (see my previous post), Paul Green from Morningstar addressed the End of Bureaucracy, and Jack Huges of TopCoder and James DeJulio took on the End of the Employee. And while each of these sessions was limited to 20 minutes or so, these three themes were woven deeply through everything else that was presented and discussed for the rest of the day.

These are big, hairy ideas. They scare the crap out of a lot of people. When you discuss them with people in a theoretical way, they nod and are politely silent. But try talking about how these ideas might be implemented in their own organization's and you can see the wall silently sliding into place. You can almost hear what they're thinking when you look in their eyes; not in my back yard.

And yet, it's amazing to see how established organizations like HCL Technologies, Statoil and even the Church of England have adapted to embrace some of these practices. Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies and Bjarte Bogsnes of Statoil are the first to state these are long-term, multi-year initiatives which take time, patience and fortitude to effect. When your organization was founded and developed based on industrial era management practices, it appears it isn't easy to eradicate these practices no matter how much demand there is from many parts of the enterprise. This seems to be like the proverbial swapping out of parts when you're still flying the plane; not for the faint of heart.

When John Mackey, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Whole Foods finished his spectacular presentation on Conscious Leadership near the end of the program, he was asked by an audience member if he thought it was possible to be internal change agent at her company and really affect change when she wasn't in a position of power. You could see he was trying to be careful (conscious) with his first response. He wanted to be supportive and hopeful. But at the end of the exchange, he said what he wanted to say initially, "Go out and start a business to compete with the one you work for. And do it the way you want!"

The answer of a true revolutionary.

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