To Dream, To Believe LO11523 -Joe's Jottings #67
Fri, 20 Dec 96 11:34:38 -0800

"To accomplish great things,
We must not only act, but also dream;
Not only plan, but also believe."

By Anatole France (quoted in _Forbes_ magazine, 12/30/96)


We hear a lot about work/life balance, in management literature, in
various programs by executives and personnel people. It's a tricky
subject. In a discussion about this recently, one of my colleagues
reminded me that someone did a study of women who were leaving fast-track
corporate jobs. In their exit interviews, they usually kept their bridges
intact by saying that they were leaving to spend more time with their
families, etc., but then they immediately opened their own companies and
were working more hours, with more pressure ... but they were working on
things that mattered to them and in environments in which they felt fully
committed and valued.

More people than ever seem to be solving their need for fulfillment by
working in small organizations. This trend has been accelerated by recent
widespread corporate downsizing. Small, few-person companies help the
economy in a very important way; they turn the fixed cost of permanent
employees into the variable costs of buying just what we need. For
example, if we in a large company have an in-house copy center, we have
the fixed costs of the space and equipment and the copier operators. If,
however, we shut down the copy center, we no longer have those fixed costs
and pay, instead, only for the services we need. And, we can do business
with several different centers and negotiate the best price.

>From individuals' viewpoint, small companies can be fulfilling also,
especially when they feel totally responsible for their own success or
failure with none of the large organization politics and bureaucracy that
amuse us Dilbert readers. But, for individuals, working in small
companies has its problems also. All people don't have the skills needed
to run a small business. There may not be enough work to generate a
reasonable income. The time they have to invest may really put a strain
on their personal lives. And they lose the associations with colleagues
who are all working for greater purposes that can be achieved only in
large organizations.

There are costs to companies also. For example, the best customer service
comes from happy employees dedicated to the long term success of their
enterprise. Permanent employees can be encouraged to do not only their
own jobs but also to cooperate with others in the company to do things
together for the benefit of the end customer. In an internal information
technology organization, for example, we can work with our internal
customers to best achieve the best results for our external customers.
The internal IT unit is motivated to keep its costs low so that overall
company costs are competitive. If IT is outsourced, however, the internal
corporate customer _is_ the end customer for the IT vendor. And,
naturally enough, the IT vendor wants to maximize its revenues, and it's
up to the internal customer to use market forces to keep costs low.

I don't mean this to be a full discussion of outsourcing issues; I'll hold
that for another jottings. But I do think that there are things that can
be done, both by organizations and by individuals inside those
organizations, short of outsourcing, to make things better, both for the
stockholders and the employees.

For a company, the problem is cultural; that means that the solution is
either very easy or very hard. The organization must say and _act_ like
it values individuals and the contributions of their full beings. In the
November-December 1995 _Harvard Business Review_, there is a perspectives
article that gathers the opinions of several business leaders on the
topic, "How Can Big Companies Keep the Entrepreneurial Spirit Alive?"

The answers fall into three categories: 1) Create environments where risks
are accepted, where success is rewarded and failure is the basis for
learning, not punishment; 2) Adjust compensation systems to reward
individual contributions based on objective achievements rather than
subjective opinions; 3) Create opportunities for spin-offs (or spin-outs,
as they are called in the Thermo Electron Corporation) that give both the
company and people in the spin-off opportunities for significant equity
rewards if the enterprise is successful.

For employees, the problem is one of self-motivation. Peter Block, in his
book _Stewardship_ tells us all to take charge of our own lives and tells
managers to expect us to do that. Block doesn't like the word
"empowerment" because he feels that it is patronizing, that it assumes
that hierarchical managers have the right to give permission for people to
be individuals. Block sees it as equivalent to someone saying, "It's ok,
you can breathe."

Unfortunately, the truth is that many people have worked so long in
tightly controlled processes that they do need permission to breathe. And
we managers should give that permission and insist that people take
responsibility for their own work and results. At best, it will take some
time to move from today's industrial functional structure invented by
Henry Ford and Frederick Taylor to Block's dream of fully self-managed

But to make that shift requires as much or more from us individuals as it
does from us managers. In 1985, Gifford Pinchot III wrote a book called
_Intrapreneuring: Why You Don't Have to Leave the Corporation to Become an
Entrepreneur_. In that book he lists ten commandments for the would-be
intrapreneuer. A few of these are quite extreme, but they set the tone:

1. Come to work each day willing to be fired.

2. Circumvent any order aimed at stopping your dream.

7. Never bet on a race unless you are running it.

These others, however, sound pretty good to me:

3. Do any job needed to make your project work, regardless of
your job description.

4. Find people to help you.

5. Follow your intuition about the people you choose and work
only with the best.

6. Work underground as long as you can; publicity may trigger
the corporate immune mechanism.

8. Remember it's easier to ask for forgiveness than for
permission (this is my personal favorite. I think it originally
came from Grace Hopper, the first woman admiral in the U.S.

9. Be true to your goals but realistic about the ways to
achieve them.

10. Honor your sponsors.

Every New Year is an automatic reminder to reflect and to plan. It's also
a good time to dream of things that aren't yet and can be, and to believe
that we can be part of bringing those dreams into reality.

To do that does not necessarily require shedding the traces of
organizational hierarchy. But it does require our own passion and
determination, both as managers and as individuals.

I'd very much enjoy hearing your stories about dreams and beliefs in

Have wonderful holidays and a healthy, happy, and fulfilling new year.



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