daily dispatches from the management vanguard
Voices from the MIX: Human Capital M-Prize Winners
One of our goals here at the MIX is to discover and celebrate the ideas and initiative of in-the-trenches management innovators—wherever they come from. While it's always energizing to watch those ideas and stories pop up on the site, it's especially rewarding to encounter these dedicated change makers in person. We had the chance to do that recently during a celebration of our HCI Human Capital M-Prize award. It was such fun swapping ideas and hearing about how our MIXers are changing the game when it comes to supporting human flourishing inside organizations (and beyond), that I caught a bit of the conversation on video.
Here are four short takes from some of the Human Capital M-Prize finalists/winner. (And by the way, we'd love to hear more from all of you via video. You can easily upload videos in the HACK and STORY templates—if it's a compelling video, we'll be sure to promote it on the home page and circulate it widely in all of our channels.)
Meet Lisa Haneberg and learn about her Talent Management Cloud
This ambitious and well-wrought hack takes on conventional talent management systems and sketches out a broad and emergent model for creating the conditions that make people want to stay in an organization and best help them to develop and grow. While most talent management systems focus on retention and development, Haneberg argues they’re trapped in the HR function paradigm and require a fundamental reframing. Her “talent management cloud” offers up a vision of a custom-built, ever-evolving support system.
Meet Kartik Subbarao and hear about his Bonus Fund: Empower Employees to fund initiatives with company-matched bonus money
The practice of sanctioned “free time” to devote to passion projects on company time might be one of the most compelling hacks of the traditional job in the last few decades. From 3M’s original PostIt-producing “15% time” to Google’s celebrated 20% time to Atlassian’s “FedEx Days”, organizations of all stripes are responding to the overwhelming demand to carve out what Dan Pink calls “islands of autonomy” for creative, motivated people to work on what moves them. As inspiring and productive as these practices are, the rush to embrace them often leaves out a critical question: how do you fund this development time—and more importantly, create a system for evaluating and supporting the experiments and projects that often emerge? Subbarao’s hack offers a clever answer to that question that addresses crucial motivational and operational issues. His twist? Employees ante up a small contribution out of their annual bonus toward a project they and a requisite number of colleagues are passionate to pursue and the company matches the total contribution. The approach de-politicizes resource allocation, boosts employee engagement—and potentially produces new products, technologies, and directions for the company.
Meet Alyson Huntington-Jones and learn about her A Company Run by Self-Managed Teams
A senior continuous improvement consultant for Masco, a 40,000-person manufacturer of home improvement products, turned an assignment of migrating a business unit toward a “lean culture” into an experiment in overthrowing the traditional hierarchy to unleash democracy and innovation. Huntington-Jones recounts in detail a systematic process for transforming a “20th-century hierarchy” into an “accountability-based organization comprised of self-managed teams.” Step one: immerse the team in the best insights and approaches from the world’s most progressive practitioners (including Semco, Whole Foods Market, W.L. Gore).
Meet Andres Roberts and learn more about his A True Learning company—free of management
Kessels & Smit is a small firm (a 60-person services firm focused on learning and development) with big ideas about organizations and work. Founded on the twin ideas that “management blocks development” while passion is the most powerful motivator, the company is a 30-year experiment in designing work to fit human beings (rather than the other way around). K&S is an organization with no organizational structure, no procedures or policies, no hierarchy, and no job descriptions. Individuals are free to pick their own projects, set their own fees, work when and how they want. How does this work? Roberts and his colleagues are constantly evolving new approaches based on three core principles: individual responsibility, self-organization, and high-quality relationships. This story is full of richly-developed, homegrown practices around supporting and developing colleagues when there is no boss (they call it “apple trees”), taking care of critical organizational functions when there are no functional roles (“round tables”), balancing the need to do the work that needs to get done and doing the work you love (“guideline of thirds”), and creating a culture of cooperation and collaboration among independent individuals (K&S Days). Roberts doesn’t present a recipe for revolution so much as a set of powerful principles for building organizations that are fundamentally fit for human beings.