The “Hang Out Axiom”: “HANG OUT WITH ‘COOL’ AND THOU SHALT BECOME MORE COOL. HANG OUT WITH ‘DULL’ AND THOU SHALT BECOME MORE DULL. PERIOD.”
It really is about this simple.
The “We are what we eat”/ “We are who we hang out with” Axiom: At its core, every (!!!) relationship-partnership decision (employee, vendor, customer, etc., etc.) is a strategic decision about: “Innovate, ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ ”
“The Billion-man Research Team: Companies offering work to online communities are reaping the benefits of crowdsourcing.” —Headline, FT
“Crowdsourcing” can more or less apply to … EVERYTHING.
“Who’s the most interesting person you’ve met in the last 90 days? How do I get in touch with them?” —Fred Smith
Maybe not such an easy question to answer?
Take it seriously.
Ouch! “The Bottleneck …
“The Bottleneck is at the … “Where are you likely to find people with the least diversity of experience, the largest investment in the past, and the greatest reverence for industry dogma … Top of the Bottle” — Gary Hamel/Harvard Business Review
WE ARE THE COMPANY
This is not intended to be “a good idea.” It is a strategic asset—and should be consciously … measured and managed.
(Start by considering the last 10 people you went to lunch with. “Same-same” or “stretch-stretch”?)
Diversity: Hang out with cool and thou shalt become more cool. Hang out with dull and thou shalt become more dull.
Diversity: Your “hang out with” “portfolio” can/should be as carefully concocted/ managed/ measured as your strategic plan—it IS your de facto strategic plan!
Diversity: Every relationship-partnership decision (employee/ vendor/customer/etc.) is a strategic decision: “Innovate, ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’”
A project is behind schedule by three months? Six months? There is a mess amidst the supply chain? Customer orders are badly backlogged? Etc. Invariably there is ONE reason above all others when such snafus occur. (As they routinely do.) Namely: BOTCHED CROSS-FUNCTIONAL CO-ORDINATION.
NEVER WASTE A LUNCH!
% XF lunches*
*Measure! Monthly! Part of evaluation!
% of lunches with people in … OTHER FUNCTIONS.
XFX: SOCIAL ACCELERATORS …
The key “XFX” attainment tools are social—not technological.
XFX/Typical Social Accelerators
1. EVERYONE’s (more or less) JOB #1: Make friends in other functions! (Purposefully. Consistently. Measurably.)
2. “Do lunch” with people in other functions!! Frequently!! (Minimum 10% to 25% for everyone? Measured.)
3. Ask peers in other functions for references so you can become conversant in their world. (It’s one helluva sign of ... GIVE-A-DAMN-ism.)
4. Religiously invite counterparts in other functions to your team meetings. Ask them to present “cool stuff” from “their world” to your group. (Useful. Mark of respect.)
5. PROACTIVELY SEEK EXAMPLES OF “TINY” ACTS OF “XFX” TO ACKNOWLEDGE—PRIVATELY AND PUBLICALLY. (Bosses: ONCE A DAY … make a short call or visit or send an email of “Thanks” for some sort of XFX gesture by your folks and some other function’s folks.)
6. Present counterparts in other functions awards for service to your group. Tiny awards at least weekly; and an “Annual All-Star Supporters (from other groups) Banquet” modeled after superstar salesperson banquets.
XFX/ Typical Social Accelerators
7. Routinely discuss—A SEPARATE AGENDA ITEM—good and problematic acts of cross-functional cooperation at every Team Meeting.
8. When someone in another function asks for assistance, respond with … more … alacrity than you would if it were the person in the cubicle next to yours—or even more than you would for a key external customer. (Remember, XFX is the key to Customer Retention which is in turn the key to “all good things.”)
9. Do not bad mouth ... “the damned accountants,” “the bloody HR guy.” Ever. (Bosses: Severe penalties for this—including public tongue-lashings.)
10. Get physical! “Co-location” may well be the most powerful “culture change lever.” Physical X-functional proximity is almost a … guarantee … of remarkably improved cooperation—to aid this one needs flexible workspaces that can be mobilized for a team in a flash.
11. Establish “adhocracy” as S.O.P. To improve the new “X-functional Culture” (and business results), little XF teams should be formed on the spot to deal with an urgent issue—they may live for but ten days, but it helps the XF habit, making it normal to be “working the XF way.”
XFX/ Typical Social Accelerators
12. Early project “management” experience. Within days, literally, of coming aboard folks should be “running” some bit of a bit of a bit a project, working with folks from other functions—hence, “all this” becomes as natural as breathing.
13. Work proactively to give as large as possible numbers of people temporary assignments in other functions—especially Finance.
14. “Get ’em out with the customer.” Rarely does the accountant or bench scientist call on the customer. Reverse that. Give everyone more or less regular “customer-facing experiences.” She or he learns quickly that the customer is not interested in our in-house turf battles!
15. Consider creating a special role, or even position. Specialty chemical company Buckman Labs established “knowledge transfer facilitators,” effectively former “middle managers,” with 100% of discretionary pay based on success at spurring integration across previously impermeable barriers.
XFX/: Typical Social Accelerators
16. Formal evaluations. Everyone, starting with the receptionist, should have a significant XF rating component in their evaluation. (The “XFX Performance” should be among the Top 3 items in all managers’ evaluations.)
17. Every functional unit should have strict and extensive measures of “customer satisfaction” based on evaluations from other functions of its usefulness and effectiveness and value-added to the enterprise as a whole.
18. Demand XF experience for, especially, senior jobs. For example, the U.S. military requires all would-be generals and admirals to have served a full tour in a job whose only goals were cross-functional achievements.
19. “Deep dip.” Dive three levels down in the organization to fill a senior role with some one who has been noticeably pro-active on adding value via excellent cross-functional integration.
20. XFX is … PERSONAL … as well as about organizational effectiveness. PXFX (Personal XFX) is arguably the #1 Accelerant to personal success—in terms of organizational career, freelancer/Brand You, or as entrepreneur.
21. Excellence! There is a “State of XF Excellence” per se. Talk it up constantly. Pursue it. Aspire to nothing less.
EXPLICITLY & VISIBLY & RELENTLESSLY MANAGE TO XFX STANDARD!
—General D.D. Eisenhower, Armchair General* *“Perhaps his most outstanding ability [at West Point]
was the ease with which he made friends and earned the trust of fellow cadets who came from widely varied backgrounds; it was a quality that would pay great dividends during his future coalition command.”