Breaking Down The Walls of Our Agency

October 3, 2009 by comments 0

We recently made the switch to Google Calendar, and while the transition has not been without its headaches, we’re just about there.

When you make a change like this you need to explain why, and as part of doing so to our team I discussed the importance of opening up to the outside world, of taking steps toward becoming an organization with “soft edges,” and of recognizing that in the future, nimble organizations would adapt to the communications infrastructure of individuals, rather than the reverse.

I believe my kids will work in a world where the individual is understood to be permanent, and the organization temporary (or at least dynamic). Their first company will not force them into a Corporate E-Mail System. It will adapt to incorporate the methods of communication they use in their personal lives, and in so doing receive the full benefit of their networks.

I came across a video that reinforces some of these ideas, and wanted to share it with the team.

Anyway, here it is:

Curious what you think.

True, or new age bullshit?

And if you’re a Holland-Mark staffer… how are we doing against this standard? How can we do better?

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  • Leah

    Mike,

    Best Buy corporate started using a Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) approach back in 2006/07. There was a lot of resistance to it until employees found that productivity had increased as a result. The premise is that employees can work from anywhere they want, as much as they want, as long as the work gets done. No questions asked.

    I am no longer at Best Buy, but personally, I found that the flexibility cleared my mind. Rather than worry about my car, or a doctor's appointment, while trying to work, I was able to make smart, efficient choices about how to manage time. As a result, my work had my FULL attention, because my LIFE was working. Make sense?

    Don't get me wrong, we still had demanding, results oriented work responsibilities. Some days were longer than others, and work still took up the majority of my week. But the flexibility seemed to make us all more engaged, dedicated, loyal, innovative and productive.

    I recommend ROWE. It's a more feasible option than most companies realize.

  • http://tjcnyc.wordpress.com tjcnyc

    Peter Drucker said a zillion years ago about knowledge work “accept the fact that we have to treat almost anybody as a volunteer”. I couldn't agree more.

    I really believe the approach outlined in the video can work, but there must be unambiguous consequences for failing to perform. If you fart around all week waiting for “inspiration” and it doesn't happen and you miss a client deliverable, watch out :-)

    The other hidden downside to this is that if people work alone too much their people skills will deteriorate. It takes practice to be around people and to make good decisions as a team.

    Face-to-face is still important.

  • http://fatnessinstructor.com/ fatnessinstructor

    Humanity is moving toward collective consciousness. as the vishuddi chakra opens up this is reflected externally as a communications revolution. What it is really is is a technological “strap on” to mirror the rapid evolution taking place in mankinds attention. Human attention is now in a tumultuous phase where there is so much to see that it is in “mass edit”.

    Of course, if they eat different foodstuffs….

    (new age bullshit)

  • Andres Rosello

    Interesting topic, I have a couple of comments:

    I agree that there is untapped value in the network, but it is important to not throw away the baby with the bath water. There are significant benefits of efficiency in using standardized technology and applications, so the solution is to connect your preferred technology with the “Corporate Email System.” The reverse of this is already happening, as adoption of Posterous is allowing those comfortable with corporate email to connect with social technologies more easily.

    The video focuses on mobility and the death of the cube which is not a new concept. Telecommuting goes back to the 70s with dumb terminals and phone lines. However, there is a tradeoff that has limited this “opportunity.” In-person collaboration is more effective that virtual. The technology and UI is still not there. And these interactions are not mutually exclusive. Because you are collaborating in-person in the office, does not mean that you cannot also be tapping your networks online.

    In the end it’s about creating a culture that balances the vision of the organization with the passions of its members. The answer is different for everyone.

  • m moore jr.

    cool but spooky in a way… i'm all for making people's work environments more flexible, and more closely tailored to their individual work styles. but, when work presumes to 'allow' the worker to pursue her own interests, the worker gives over yet more power to the employer. it is her INNATE RIGHT to pursue her interests, and her employer is PRIVILEGED to receive her productivity. we as americans have it so screwed up, we give so much power to our employer it is frightening sometimes.

    also listen to the phrase, the 'lines blur between work and play.' for the employer, this is wonderful – i get to pay my worker for 40 hours a week, but my worker's life is essentially blurred into one big work week. now, if the employer were a munificent, world-changing entity, and could be trusted with the responsibility of taking care of its workforce, then blurring the lines is ok. however, if it is a for-profit, productivity driven entity (like most businesses…) then the worker should resist that blurring with all her might. she owes a work week to her employer, for which she should be fairly compensated. period.

    mike, i shoot the question back to you – how does holland-mark measure up to that standard?

    • http://scalableintimacy.com Mike Troiano

      Poorly, I'd say, but by choice. We don't subscribe to the notion that the agency's interests are somehow at odds with our staff's interests. The assumption of some kind of “zero sum game” between us and our people seems to be behind your comment, and I just don't beleive that's the case.

      To clarify… our full time employees are paid for their talent, ideas, and work product. How they choose to use thier time in the pursuit of those things is thier business. We have no official start and end time in our office, nor do we have a “vacation policy.” If you can take off 6 weeks a year and meet your responsibilities, knock yourself out. Heck… show the rest of us how to do it.

      In return for treating people like grown-ups we expect grown-up behavior. People are responsible for delivering on their commitments – not just to us or our clients, but to one another. That's not about bourgeois / proletariat conflict… I just don't now how the system that serves us all could function otherwise.

      Now… there are freelance people here who in fact are paid for their time, though we value the talent and ideas of these folks just as much as we do our FTEs. For freelancers the line around what is “work” may be more tangible. They probably earn a better hourly wage than our full-time folks, but there are no guarantees on the number of hours we'll need them. That's the trade-off, and I think we're pretty flexible in helping folks move from one “flavor” of participation to the other.

      Speaking for myself… I'm not sure where the line between my “personal” and “work” life begins and ends. I think the same is true for my partners. But I love what I do, and derive much more from it than a paycheck. We want people who feel the same… not because it serves some ulterior motive for free labor, but because in our experience those people end up creating more total value for the agency *and* themselves.

      • m moore jr.

        First, thanks for taking the time to reply, says a lot for you and your firm. I understand your response in the context of your being a partner in a business, and it seems pretty progressive within the current system (that's code for american capitalism, just to be clear ;) ).

        My point was directed more to the the video you chose to include in your post, and the 'death of the cube.' Anyway, this is not the forum for that conversation, and I appreciate the time you've taken already.

  • m moore jr.

    First, thanks for taking the time to reply, says a lot for you and your firm. I understand your response in the context of your being a partner in a business, and it seems pretty progressive within the current system (that's code for american capitalism, just to be clear ;) ).

    My point was directed more to the the video you chose to include in your post, and the 'death of the cube.' Anyway, this is not the forum for that conversation, and I appreciate the time you've taken already.