I’m a keen follower of Steve Denning and his writing on strategy, leadership and the future of work. He writes in what might be described as ‘strategy speak’ and is rarely a quick read, but there’s a lot of insight in his words for those that take the time to look for it.
- Goals, attitudes and values that focus on added value and innovation for customers and users, rather than a preoccupation with short-term profits.
- Managers seeing themselves, and acting, as enablers, rather than controllers, so as to draw on the full talents and capacities of knowledge workers.
- The use of autonomous teams and networks of teams, in some cases operating at large scale with complex and mission-critical tasks.
- The coordination of work through structured, iterative, customer-focused practices, rather than bureaucracy.
- Embodying on a daily basis the values of transparency and continuous improvement of products, services and work methods.
- Communications that are open and conversational, rather than top-down and hierarchical.
For many of you there won’t be anything new in this list, but it’s power comes in having all these characteristics in one place. I like that it eschews buzz words in favour of easily understandable plain English. Would be modern firms who look at their practices and compare it with this list will have little doubt how they are getting on.
I also like that this list explains why mission driven businesses often enjoy a lot of success – they score highly on the first bullet about goals and values. Companies like Google, Facebook and more recently (and at a smaller scale) Transferwise here in the UK, or a number o companies in our portfolio, including Unbound and Big Health have missions which are focused on doing something for important customers. Big Health, for example, wants to make billions of people healthier without pills or potions.