Chad – Like the title of your book, Create the Organization You Want, I see a key benefit is making the organization that you want to work in and everyone else wants to work in too.
John – That’s the “what’s in it really for me,” or WIiFM part right? It’s your opportunity to create the organization you want to work inside of and be a part of. All too often we find ourselves in organizations that somebody else designed. The entrepreneur gets to design their own organization, and often it’s not done consciously, and so the book is useful for recreating or redesigning. It’s also useful if you’re designing it for the first time. You’ve got a viable product, you’ve now got sales, and you have to scale up and actually create a real organization, then the same blueprint in this book will help you do that. It’s creating the one that you want and the one that you would want to work in.
But, it’s not just about you, it’s about you having empathy for all those stakeholders and what it’s like to be them inside your organization. This is where we run into a little bit of an issue and why the stakeholders are the center of everything and what they need, want, and having empathy for them is the center of everything. Not only is it important for product design, because we’re trying to provide solutions a customer wants and will pay for. So we know that empathy’s important there. But from a business designer perspective, if you’re the owner or a senior leader, oftentimes the design for your personal 401K or your retirement or flipping it or whatever your objective is, you may not care about all those other stakeholders. This really is about a situation where you care about creating a sustainable company, even if you’re going to sell it. You should be able to get more money for a sustainable company than one that’s doing boom-bust curves where we’re uncertain about the future. It should be more valuable to everybody including the investors.
One thing we’re starting to realize is just how much risk is associated with poor social and environmental performance including the financial implications. Also, a whole lot of our environmental challenges have to do with waste and waste costs money. That’s the good news. All too often we look at some of these as making trade-offs. But, this isn’t about a zero-sum game of making trade-offs. It’s about redesigning things so that they create value for the multiple stakeholders. That’s why a systems view is so important to good design, because you have to understand that a better supply or partner performance and better workforce performance, when you combine those with better systems and processes, they produce better products and services and create happier customers who buy more from us and bring their friends with them, referral business. So you get repeat and referral businesses which grow the top line and make the investors happy.
So this is all a system, and a good design requires you view it as a system. Otherwise, you’ll make design decisions based on trade-offs that are unnecessary. Now, as organizational designers, we still face trade-offs and sometimes have to make them and that’s because our imagination is not yet good enough, or our creativity has not come up with a solution that allows us to resolve value for all stakeholders in every situation. I’m not saying trade-offs don’t happen and aren’t required. We have constraints, and we have to make trade-offs, and we have to do it all the time, but the notion is we make those when we can’t figure out a better way.