I started 2016 off by reading (and tweeting) Goffee and Jones’ new book, Why should anyone work here? What it takes to create an authentic organization. The idea of “tweeting a book” is to read a book cover to cover and tweet quotes as you go. The process causes me to read with greater focus, and I invariably get more out of the book as a result. You should try it!
This blog post captures all the tweets in chronological order and serves as a summary of the book.
In their earlier book, Why should anyone be led by you?, Goffee and Jones call for us to be authentic and to be ourselves, more, with skill. This new book clarifies that organizations significantly influence our ability to be authentic (the “agency” vs. “structure” tension). It’s not enough for you to want to be authentic; your work culture either reinforces or undermines your ability to be your authentic self.
The way the authors moved into this book is by asking people the question, “What would your ideal organization be like? One in which you could be your best self.” And for leaders reading the book, the agenda is driven by this question: “How do you build the best workplace on earth for your people? How do you create the most productive and rewarding working environments possible?”
The authors’ research is organized around six imperatives for the ideal—or “DREAM”—organization, which is also how the chapters of the book are organized:
It is a great book. I’ll turn now to the tweets, which are generally chronological beginning with the introduction and running through the six “DREAM” imperatives to the conclusion of the book.
(140 characters or less, using #workhere)
“How do you build the best workplace on earth for your people?”
“This book is an agenda for ldrs & org’s that aim to create the most productive & rewarding working environments possible.”
“At a fundamental level, people want to do good work in org’s in which they believe.”
“People who enjoy what they do/where they work r more productive. Creating a gr8 place to work releases creativity/productivity”
This is a great insight to reflect on:
What would your ideal (“dream”) company be like? We start with the first imperative, DIFFERENCE:
“Creativity (a key index of performance) increases w/diversity & declines with conformity.”
“Authentic workplaces allow people to be themselves: to have a voice, exercise discretion, express disagreement…”
“Effective organizations are willing & able to leverage the wide range of differences among their people.”
Yet, there’s a tension (trade-off) between fostering individuality/uniqueness on the 1 hand & cohesion/structure on the other
“Inherent differences among them generate conflict, which feeds creativity & high engagement. And while most org’s say…” (1/2)
“…they want creativity/innovation [they don’t want] the passionate conflict, edgy relationships & regular failure” often involved (2/2)
“The forces 4 conformity in org’s r strong…Consciously push against that magnetic draw…so people can be who they really r.”
“When a person is able to express his or her uniqueness, both the individual & the org win.”
“Efforts to nurture individuality run up against countervailing efforts to increase org effectiveness…”
Here are my rough notes on Chpt 1 in Goffee & Jones’ new book #workhere? #difference So, where does this leave us?
On to Goffee & Jones’ 2nd ideal org imperative, Radical Honesty: “I want to know what’s really going on.”
“Transparent honest practices r now seen as the #1 factor in creating corporate reputation. Radical #honesty is a biz necessity.”
#honesty is proactive; speedy; surprises people with its candor; encourages dissent; engages with employees & wider stakeholders.
“Power relationships at work distort communication…& explains why much of the info that reaches senior execs is sanitized.”
“People need to feel safe imparting their views…There’s a need to invent mechanisms to ensure it’s ok to surface problems.”
Examples: Have meetings specifically designed to air bad news; have “hopes & fears” discussions. Openness is a key ldrshp skill.
Goffee & Jones’ 3rd imperative for great organizations is “Extra Value” — invest in people & magnify their #strengths.
“The ideal company doesn’t just grow its best employees; it makes all its employees better than they ever thought they could be.”
“Adding value to employees & generating value as an org. are not competing activities. They are symbiotic.” #virtuouscycle
“Join us & we will develop you.” We will help magnify your strengths! This is a powerful commitment for org’s to make.
A question for leaders to consider: “How do you magnify your team members’ #strengths?” Well, first you have to know what they are. Right?
Goffee & Jones’ 4th imperative for the ideal org is about standing for something real #authentic
What does it mean for an org to be #authentic?
#authentic org’s “possess a sense of identity; they obsessively live their values; & their leaders model the company’s values”
Ldrs: be #authentic! “Be yourself, more, with skill.” Know & use your distinctive differences & the weaknesses that make u human
“Human beings r empowered by seeing the connection between biography & history…” Do u make that connection in ur organization?
“Does ur org have identity-defining roots? U don’t have to be old to have roots.” How do u tell the story of ur org’s origins?
After giving 3 great ex’s of org HQ reflecting their identity: “Too many [others] convey nothing of the org’s history & culture.”
“The fact is that people want to work for an organization that stands for something.” #workhere #authentic Stand for something real.
On to Goffee & Jones’ 5th imperative for the ideal org: “make it meaningful”
How do #leaders ensure the daily work is intrinsically satisfying & meaningful? the 3 C’s: #connection, #community, #cause.
Refuse 2 be restricted by the limits of ur role. “Design jobs that allow individuals greater scope for self-expression” #meaning
“What we have before us are some breathtaking opportunities disguised as insoluble problems.” -John Gardner
“The paradox of team building: when u build strong teams u may exclude others. Thus, it becomes a ldrshp imperative…” (1/2)
“…as u build a strong team, to also build the #connection to adjacent functions & the wider organization.” (2/2)
“High levels of #sociability at work fuel: creativity, enjoyment & effort.” #relationships
“Where levels of sociability & solidarity r high we describe the org culture as communal” Passion, loyalty & obsession r the norm
“THE most significant source of meaning for talented people comes from a shared cause or sense of purpose.” What is yours?
“If co’s organized more 2 draw on & fuel enthusiasms &less 2 maximize efficiency the problem of disengagement would b gone 4ever”
“The task of the Ldr is 2 identify what’s exciting about work & 2 convey it 2 others. Do this well & the energy can b infectious”
“If we want people to fully identify with their org’s & to bring their best selves to work, they need a sense of cause”
“What’s increasingly clear is that identifying the cause may well take u beyond the boundaries of the org to wider communities.”
#leaders “We have the opportunity-indeed the obligation-to build a sense of belonging & cooperation.”
On to Goffee & Jones’ 6th & final imperative for the ideal org. Have #SIMPLE, widely-agreed on rules.
“The ideal co is not a co w/out rules. It has clear rules that make sense to the people who follow them.” Clarity & Simplicity
“Good rules maximize discretion which, in turn, facilitates problem solving. They unleash initiative rather than suppress it.”
The tendency is toward rule creep & before u know it rule proliferation & complexity, which often leads to reduced profitability.
“Good rules connect to purpose.” What are the rules in your org? Is it clear how they connect to ur org’s #purpose?
“When things go wrong, resist the temptation to invent another rule.” Revisit values & purpose & “strive for simplicity” #trust
Just finished Goffee & Jones’ book, “Why Should Anyone Work Here?” #whyworkhere? I’ll close with a few standout quotes from the Conclusion.
“Allowing people to be themselves generates commitment & fosters creativity.” It’s not always easy “but there is a major pay-off”
“Where work feels meaningful, individuals experience a sense of purpose. They can find intrinsic meaning in their jobs…” (1/2)
“…in the way their work connects 2 others & the broader community. They can connect what they do 2 an overarching cause.” (2/2)
“Rethinking our org’s is not just about profit, efficiency, or effectiveness; it’s about crafting recipes for good societies.”
People want “Org’s where they can be themselves, know the truth, grow, believe in the purpose & be given the freedom 2 pursue it.”
NOTE: This last tweet nicely captures Goffee and Jones’ six imperatives for the ideal (DREAM) organization: (1) Be Themselves (Difference); (2) Know the truth (Radical Honesty); (3) Grow (Extra Value); (4, 5) Believe in the purpose (Authenticity & Meaning); (6) Given the freedom to pursue it (Simple rules).
Goffee and Jones emphasize several times that it is rare to find organizations achieving excellence in all six imperatives. They include a short questionnaire in each chapter that leaders can use to help assess where they stand with each of the imperatives, and they recommend focusing effort on addressing the weakest areas first. Several of the imperatives are synergistic and reinforce each other; however, some can actually be at odds. For example, a company with strong identity and cohesion – which are linked to authenticity and meaning – can work against valuing difference. These tensions are good for leaders to be aware of.
Finally, a big idea that is worth repeating is that individual agency to “be authentic” is influenced by the structure of the workplace – the organizational culture. We need cultures that call out authenticity and that allow us to be our best selves.
Book Citation: Goffee, Rob and Gareth Jones (2015). Why should anyone work here? What it takes to create an authentic organization. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.