The human aspect is a tricky asset. Great to have when it comes to inventing concepts, very, very bad when the profiling urge joins the game or cognitive bias, clan thinking, jealousy, envy, hate, nepotism, greed, or just lack of information, lack of knowledge, forgotten lessons learned or sheer stupidity… the flaws we should be wary about.
As an airplane engineer I don’t care about the engine working or the wings producing lift. Those things are ‘as they should be’ … What interests me are the things NOT working properly, because those are the things that can cause my aircraft to crash. I find it interesting to see how companies still get into trouble despite of all the ‘studied’ and assesed decisions. Of course there are external aspects we can’t all know or control, but that’s not the thing I worry about too much. But what about cost control? Is it a responsibility only for management? Or values? Or corporate culture? Or any aspect that could make any decision better?
I believe that every person on any level could have something to say, something to contribute, something to notice, ‘The Little Duch boy tale’ so to speak. Why should an organization of a thousand people rely only on the potential of a handful of decision takers when any of those thousand could have that million dollar idea or an idea on how to save important assets or to improve a product? And having a query or a brainstorm in the company doesn’t really cover the participating aspect when at one moment the potential input is cut off.
In my vision the organization as a whole is an asset, and an asset we should max out from the first minute till the last…because non-efficient decisions… and ‘the organization’ sticking with them… is a major reason to start disliking your job, and in the end could make employees disengaging completely. But also the reason companies generate too high costs, aren’t as flexible as they should be, etc.
This solution should have a simple IT-based tool. An email going through an engine that loops the info, distributing it as shown in the sketch below. Some CEO’s could decide they want to have a CC of ALL pings, or you could decide to have the processed data of pings distributed through the intranet, openly, transparent for all employees to see and read. Just adapt as
This tool should be able to extract secondary information, such as relevancy of the info and the efficiency of a person who pings, could be used for personal feedback or a software application could engage the topical facets, demonstrating how a user is assisted to explore and to query a body of possibly unknown data (…corporate culture, software problems, heating problems, or personal interests which the organization could use … this list is unlimited) .
The company could also decide to let the data or pings be monitored by an external company that could spot potential threats/opportunities/trends/… or just be the sparring partner that management needs to keep a holistic unbiased (!) overview.
Once up and running, this hack (if used correctly) would have the potential to cut costs, help management, or should I say the organization as a whole, tune their processes, investments, and structures, in the most efficient and effective way. In doing so by involving all coworkers you get more engagement. Bad conduct or unwanted influencing coming from those typical human flaws… would be spotted and can be stopped.
The biggest challenges I see, are the comfort zone users need to get out of and to lose the feeling this is a whistleblowers-tool (…and it’s a bad thing…) Also abuse of this system would undermine the advantages of having it.
Employees are so used to shut up and go with the flow or to keep their critics to an absolute minimum, that it might be difficult to get this tool to be adopted. It should be obvious that a proof of concept would open that window needed.
It’s a double sided blade having something to say on a topic or on a decision. You can be seen as a helping hand or as an annoying little (..*..) .
Receiving critique or comment is not easy too. It can hurt your feelings, burst your bubble (of that brilliant idea you thought you had) but in the end, it would add up to avoiding a decision getting pushed through just because of your own bias.
Users would need to get used to having people ‘helping’… it is the culture change that is not easy to adopt. And the organization should be on the lookout for users abusing the tool for personal benefit or to undermine someone or blocking the flow. But with a good supervising unit (or that external company) this can be adjusted.
Just start! Explain the tool to a designated group, but without designing the tool. Just run it with simple emailing (flag those ping’s or give them a typical colour categorie). Make sure the experiment won’t end up in a fighting arena, everyone should see it as an exercise… you could use one manager or coworker to be the ‘processor’ who keeps the pinger anonymous ( keeping potential personal grudges afterward to a minimum…). And even give one specific topic they should ping about (cost reduction for example) and let them talk about the established structures and processes at first, rather than new decisions to keep it clear. Pretty sure after running it a couple of weeks, the advantages would emerge.