We at Stratlab are growing a “Starfish” organization, stolen from Ori Braffman’s the Starfish and the Spider, the story of leaderless organizations.
I don’t believe the future is in an organizational chart that dictates a clear divide between management and employees. The future is a leaderless organization. An organization that doesn’t need constant management, an organization where you’re free to make decisions on your own, we hope they are good ones but we know we can’t control that.
What we can control is how StratLab grows as a Starfish, by taking on bigger and better (more impossible) problems. To do this structure is a hindrance to true creative brilliance hence why at Stratlab we have as few rules a humanly possible.
The current way to organize a business with Executives, Management and Employees dates back to the 1600’s
Maverick written by Ricardo Semler in Brazil published in 1993. A transformational business book from start to finish. Completely counter what you’d come to expect from a Brazilian industrial tycoon. I think Mr. Semler is one of the most thought-provoking, honest, most humble leaders I’ve ever come across.
Semco, a heavy duty industrial manufacturer has no rules to live by. You pick your own hours, pick your own pay, pick your own vacation times, heck you even vote on your own managers regularly! Twice a year you fill out a 30 question questionnaire about your management and division you work in.
No one has a long term contact. No one is employed longer than 6 months. Everyone’s salary is openly known by anyone who cares to know.
Semco is the most democratic company I’ve ever read about, and they did it in a 1980’s Brazilian economy. Not the beacon of sought after economies you once thought, on the contrary, Brazil was avoid by many businesses because of the government, high inflation rates, and a fast growing unpredictable future. It’s astounding what Ricardo and Semco accomplished during this period in Brazil.
He was courageous in his decisions but the theme throughout his career and the book was that he cared (and still cares) dearly about people. It’s so refreshing to see in someone like him in a leadership role, putting people before profits.
Telling, forcing, commanding, never works. Inspiring, helping, listening, always does.
“You can either fit in or stand out but you can’t do both.” -Seth Godin
Ladies and gentlemen I introduce to you Alex Painter. I met Alex years ago on a Realtor competition. He wore a bowtie then and he still wears a bowtie.
Yes he IS Gumin’ At You!
Alex is a different character, he’s creative, well spoken and generally the type of guy you want to be around. Alex was moving to Banff and wanted a job in the hospitality industry, but not just any job, an awesome job. Thinking there would be a lot of competition for jobs in Banff, Alex wasn’t going to make a resume like a shmuck, Alex needed to show potential employers who he really was. He needed to show them he was “Gumin’ at them!”.
He’ll tell you the idea came from a friends Dad who was trying to help him standout amongst all the other boring job applications.
“Chews Me!” it reads along with Alex’s contact information and a picture of himself. If you cut open the pack, his references are on the inside. To cap it all off included is actual spearmint gum*(see the comment section for the type of gum).
Off to Banff he went with several packs of “Chews Me” gum in tow.
So the real question is did it work?
You better believe it. Of the first three places he dropped off “gum” at, two places offered him a job on the spot. Wow.
The next time you want a “cool” job, remember how many people are handing out resumes. If you want to standout to a potential employers don’t be afraid to do something that shows who you really are. Alex is a one-of-kind gentlemen who isn’t afraid to push the status quo of resumes and job applications.
In a world where we’re dying for creativity, it’s ideas like this that get talked about and shared. When you risk doing something different, usually you get the reward you were never expecting.
You want to keep people around you who aren’t afraid to push the boundaries on what is possible. You never know what the real benefit is until you try.
* – I actually have no idea what kind of gum he used, I assumed it was spearmint but who knows! See the comment below…
I get this question more and more. The answer is always YES! And then the conversation usually goes to, “well can I drop off a resume?” and my response is always the same, “no”. I don’t want your resume because that’s not an efficient way to tell if you’re going to work well with our team.
I want to know what you bring to the table. What’s your super power? What are you REALLY good at? What could you do endlessly for hours and hours without needing a break? These are the things I need to know.
It also helps being a part of a successful team. Just because if it was a successful team then you know they had to check their ego at the door.
We want team players, we want people willing to learn, people who never say those horrible words “I can’t”, people who don’t give up and people that actually care about something. Those are the people I want to work with.
It was Lorne Schnell in University who told us something I’ll never forget. “The best companies are always hiring, they may not be displaying a help wanted ad but they’re hiring, you just need to make the right pitch.” It’s not verbatim but you get his drift. If you speak in terms of the company you want to work with, what problem can you solve?
Presented at the Disrupt HR event put on in May 2016 in Regina, SK. My very first Human Resources Presentation.
HR Sucks & What To Do About It
Organizational charts suck.
Company hierarchies suck.
The traditional HR part of business sucks.
No one loves dealing with peoples problems, so HR is the hardest department in any company. Think about it, they have the hardest job out of anyone!!
HR Sucks the traditional business model sucks.
But it doesn’t have to suck.
HR doesn’t have to suck.
You can do it differently.
You have to do it differently.
You don’t have to be traditional at all.
Break the rules.
Don’t have a company hierarchies.
Use the Virgin Model of company hierarchy (one visionary at the centre and everyone else a spoke in the wheel).
What if everyone is equal?
Stop trying to tell people what to do. It’s annoying. Who actually likes being told what to do? NO ONE! So why do we do it? Ego. Instead of telling people what to do, inspire them to want to do it. This is a lesson that took me 8 years of coaching volleyball to learn. You can’t tell anyone what to do….for very long. Sure you can do it once or twice to correct bad attitude or behaviour, but if you keep doing it you’re pushing your staff away.
There’s a better way to manage in 2016 and it has nothing to do with managing at all. It has everything to do with leading. Leaders do the right thing even when no one is looking. Leaders serve others. Leaders do the hardest job possible and never look for credit. Leaders never boast, leaders care for others. Leaders build you up and give you confidence. Leaders allow you to fail because that’s how humans learn. Leaders are what we all strive to be.
Pay people for what they do not the title they hold.
What if we got paid for what we do not what title on the door or letters behind our names? Yes it’s much easier to hide behind a title or be lazy because you have 10 letters behind your name. But in the new world no one cares how many degrees you have. That’s not a definition of intelligence anymore. A degree simply means you have an above average memorization skill.Ones’ number of acquired University degrees tend to have an inverse relationship with ones’ social intelligence.
Use policy with caution. No great company was made because of a “policy”.
Have a strong set of values and stick to them. All successful companies have a strong set of values.
We don’t need factory workers anymore!
Be more flexible with your people.
Be friends with your staff.
Have mental health days.
Don’t have a limit on holidays.
Talk about culture or no one else will.
HR is nothing if it’s not a mission. (thanks Hugh)
Don’t wait for someone to do it for you or your organization. Step up, take initiative and do something.
Be the change you want to see in your HR department.
Humans vs Robots, a series of Podcasts produced by NPR’s Planet Money Podcast that are nothing short of amazing. The first one I listened to on the way to presentation in Saskatoon, I used one of the stories in my presentation. It was that good!
As the human race progresses, we invent easier ways to do things. The lightbulb put the candle makers out of business. They were outraged. Why wouldn’t people support the candle makers anymore? Doesn’t society have a duty to support the candle makers?!?
The car put horse and carriage drivers out of business. The Better Business Bureau put the snake oil salesmen out of business. Cassette tape put the record stompers out of business, the digital camera put Kodak out of business, Napster put 60% of the record industry out of business, Google put the phone book out of business, what do you think will be next? Are you in that industry? Better yet, are you in the industry that’s going to displace a current market?
Dr. Nick Bontis talking about industry displacement and why you need to retool, relearn, re-certify, re-professionalize to stay relevant.
In this podcast they lineup three competitions of the epic showdown, HUMANS vs ROBOTS!
Battle 1: Who can fold a towel better?. At MIT there’s a project that has students developing an algorithm that allows a robot to reach into a load of laundry, grab a towel, and fold it in to a prefect square. The students did just that, but it took the robot 18 minutes to complete the task. They also had a young child try folding a towel. It took less than a minute.
Humans 1 Robots 0
Battle 2 was Ellie. Ellie is a computer program that interacts with people. It was made for people with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and severe depression. The theory was that some people just won’t open up to another human, what they’ve been through sometimes it too traumatic to tell someone. But it’s easier to talk to a machine that won’t judge you.
This part in the podcast is worth listening to alone. They have a war vet from the Canadian Military talking about his experience with Ellie, it was a positive one. His story is a moving one, I won’t ruin it for you. Go listen to it!
Human 1 Robots 1
Battle 3; who can write faster a machine or a journalist from the BBC?
Yup, they’ve created a machine to write the news. All the major websites (Reuters, Yahoo news, Huffington Post, etc.) have stories created by WordSmith, a software program that can write news articles. All you need is a companies annual report (the competition in the story was based on Denny’s annual report) and WordSmith puts together an article that isn’t fancy but gets the point across.
The result? WordSmith took two minutes to finish the articles, the journalist took just over seven minutes however the journalist had a little more flare to his article.
This is a story about a small town in the US that’s slowly being taken over by factories, and no, not traditional manufacturing factories, robotically run factories. This is completely changing the job landscape for many people in North America. It’s scary but you can’t stop technology, some how you have to get a head of the curve.
The future of restaurants will involve this thing called Ziosk. It’s like an iPad for your table where you can order on, get a drink refill, and order dessert. What will happen to waitresses and waiters? They interviewed some of the staff at an Applebee’s that has Ziosk’s. The wait staff hate it, not surprisingly, but it shortens table turnaround (very valuable in casual dining) and increases dessert sales by 30%.
Just think, you may be ordering your next meal from a machine, who will you tip? Do machines need tips? The future will tell.
This podcast is a fictional story of “the last job”. It’s kind of funny, but also somewhat erie. What will we do in the future? We won’t all be working. What will we spend our time doing? It’s an interesting thought.
As I step up onto my soap box, disgusted with the way some folks are running their business, I look to the future of our world where we support the companies who are growing our community and we avoid like the plague businesses just out to make money.
Almost everyone I talk to these days who’s over the age of 50 always complains about the entitlement of young employees. Some have even gone to say that being “entitled” is the worst characteristic in a young budding employee. I’m not arguing this point, I think it’s valid. What I am seeing more and more of though is management entitlement.
You know these managers. They expect employees to work harder than they do because they’ve been around since the great depression and have more management experience that Drucker himself. The owner who thinks they can run their company in an autocratic style, fast-forward a couple years and this chap can’t figure out why none of his employees have ever invited him out for a pint and turnover is thru the roof.
You can lie to employees for a while and still make money as a business. But sooner or later the market will find out, it always does. Information travels too quickly.
We never talk about our human resource strategy, HR’s never really top of mind, and we don’t attend many board meetings on specific outcomes of next years’ HR strategy. Why is that? HR has a bad wrap stemming from University, everyone joked about the crazy HR lady at companies. You know, the lady that had been there for 30 years and still hugged you on occasion but recognized it was “wrong” in the workplace?