June 13, 2010 at 7:37am
The FreeSpeak system is a simple but powerful method to force the organization to self-improve and become more competitive while eliminating reliance on management.
This hack solves several problems:
1. Many organizations find it tough to solicit feedback from employees for one reason or another.
2. In most organizations, decisions are made at the top. People on the bottom aren't empowered, aren't consulted, and their knowledge is wasted.
3. Some organizations find it hard to hold senior people accountable.
4. Companies often don't know how to use the breadth of internal knowledge to innovate or improve
First create the system and follow these four steps:
1. Create a simple web application called FreeSpeak. Allow any employee, any customer, or any partner to go into this web site and post an anonymous question, comment, idea, or concern. For every item posted, allow the author to specifically direct the item to a specific person or group in the company.
2. Require recipients of these messages to respond to each one individually. Hold them accountable for each response.
3. Make this system transparent, so that every employee, customer, and partner could see every comment and every response.
4. Have the CEO of the company read these messages. Turn every message into an action item that needs to be reported on to the CEO or some other very trusted senior executive.
Now that you have the basic system in place, watch the magic happen. First, there will be no change. People will post messages and nothing will be done about it. Then, these messages will get to the CEO and he will hold team members accountable. He will require responses to be posted on FreeSpeak for everyone to see. If responses are positive, the firm will get energized and submit more ideas. If they are negative, one of the two things will happen: (a) If the firm has the right people in the right positions, they will be guided by "the invisible hand" to improve and solve the problem, since their actions, decisions, and performance are now transparent to the rest of the organization or (b) employees and customers will get reassured that no one cares and the firm will go out of business; in this case you had the wrong people in the wrong positions.
The basic premise here is that people don't like it when anything negative is said about them or their work. When such negative information appears, they usually try to solve it. This system forces them to solve problems they otherwise ignore or unaware of. If they don't act, they will lose their jobs.