Some (old)normal company oddities
There are many companies with strong processes or hidden rules that make them rigid, unable to change and ultimately unable to live their existence to the full. I often meet important CEOs who wish to spend the day with me to better understand how we work. They mostly end up with the certainty that it is so obvious that we just have to be ourselves, and comment on how unbelievable the way ego and power have changed their company is! A few are truly inspired and willing to change their organisation after a day with us.
I understand we’re not perfect and we still have lots of improvements to make, but we would like to do this collectively, as a whole. I would love to identify the company that I manage as a New Normal or Teal company.
It is for you to decide what is obvious and what is not.
1- An old-normal company doesn’t have a purpose and tries to find it through its individuals, a New-normal company has a purpose!
Old-normal companies invest lots of money on motivational training where they select individuals who will then cooperate within a group. This is done to improve performance, reliability, and trustworthiness. People usually join this kind of company because they are able to gain much more power and hence more money: escalation for the individual.
New-normal teal companies work on their noble purpose and recruit people that want to change the world through that specific purpose. People’s values are aligned by the understanding and the sharing of the purpose. Most people who join such a company do so for the purpose and not only for a good salary: escalation for the whole.
2- Old-normal companies are full of teenagers whilst new-normal companies are made of adults!
Think about hierarchy: it imposes structure and functions. People are aligned by functions and functions provide the boundary for actions. Every action that is taken outside its own boundary must be approved by the specific function. Trust is only on functions and roles and the feeling is that there is a single company that holds all the employees. There is no interdisciplinarity between people and few of them (those who are entrepreneurial) live outside their comfort zone.
Think about a flat organization: it defines no boundaries and requires transparency. Self-management is one of the keys. It’s as if there was a small company inside everyone, in a pervasive way. All the functions of a old-normal company are now fixed inside everyone. No roles, but skills. Lower skills require coaching by more skilled people. There is a sense of friendship between colleagues.
3- Decision are made by one instead of by many!
Old companies delegate decision making to key roles only. A person has the responsibility for choosing for all the people that he or she manages: she must also decide on behalf them. Decisions are always influenced by the environment that surrounds that person, and the person is usually identified as a single point of friction — her decisions are made based only on her own experience, skills and intuition.
In a teal company decisions are made by the team. Through collaborative tools and processes people can quickly decide on important things like hiring a new teammate or firing an old one. Complex decisions are made through discussions and people are forced to understand each other to find a common agreement. This process breeds the creation of new ideas and refreshes the air within the whole group. Intuition is that of the group and not of the individual.
4- Yearly review instead of Peer praising
Old companies work on a yearly review. This is a “post mortem” analysis and the results can be altered according to what happened in the last weeks prior to review. This does not happen in living organisations where we have weekly analysis and peer praising. Thanks to a company that feels alive, people are encouraged to praise their peers often in a public or private way. Praise can also be in the form of a lesson learned from past mistakes. Such companies have abolished the fear of a yearly performance review and provide continuous, open and honest feedback instead: people are allowed to adapt to new situations and change course throughout the year in order to deliver the best results.
5- MBOs instead of Welfare
Old companies work with the idea of objectives and they carry out management by objectives. It’s like showing the carrot and hiding the stick. But where is the stick? New normal companies don’t rely on carrots, they think that good performances are obtained by having good people and products. In order to ensure that people are healthy and able to perform well, this type of company focuses on welfare for fast improvement: things like cycling, SPA resorts for the family, free organic food and so on. In Latin there was the saying “mens sana in corpore sano” and this also applies to large organisations, where it is the whole company that must be healthy, not the single individual.
6- Fear of getting it wrong instead of Happiness of making mistake
Investigation and judgement are the preferred sport of old companies. They tend to seek out the guilty and parade them in the public square, making these organizations much more oriented to processes than to humans. New normal companies are more human oriented and think that happiness can be improved day by day. They have abolished fear and allow people to experiment, try out new ideas and make mistakes. They tend to smile at success and celebrate failures. Ever had a failure party? It removes fear and makes people smile every day!
These points sum up the main points where a New Normal company differs from an Old Normal company. When you work and live in such a company there is much more to be experienced than what I covered in this short post. This is why CEOs come to visit the company and try to experience what it really means to work in this way. Some go home truly inspired and vow to change their own companies too. What do you think? Did any of these points sound obvious to you?
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