Exploring Humanize: Courageous

This is the last in my series of six “Exploring Humanize” blog posts where I go over the basic content in the book. If you missed the previous ones, just go to the Humanize category and you can scan through them all. And if you’re ready to buy the book, it’s available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Of the four human elements in our book (open, trustworthy, generative, and courageous), we put courageous last on purpose. The reason? Fear is kind of a big deal in organizations. Drucker and Deming have both written about driving fear out of organizations. We think it’s at the heart of just about any kind of dysfunction you can find. The same is true with us as individuals. So much of life is about dealing with fear, and working through it.

So human organizations need to be courageous. And that means taking action even though you are afraid. Even though you don’t know how it’s going to end up. What does that mean for organizations?

First, it means creating a culture that truly values learning. And not just giving lip service to learning. We mean really having some discipline so that people across the organization have the tough conversations about what they are doing so people really learn. It means being comfortable with failure and not settling for easy answers. It means welcoming learning even when it isn’t what we thought we were going to learn.

Second, it means building the capacity for experimentation. You need to figure out your version of Google’s 20% time–or something, but you have to create space for people to experiment. It’s a building block of learning (and innovation). This may lead to some shifts in the way you measure things, by the way.

Third, it means getting serious about personal development. Again, not just the lip service. We think courageous organizations have an above-average share of people who grow and develop as adults. People who get in touch with who they are, what they are best at, and why they were put on this planet. Those things are fuel for moving forward in the presence of fear.

So that’s the summary of our book in six blog posts. We hope you’ll dig a little deeper by actually reading the book and (more importantly) start doing something about it. Not to be overdramatic, but we wrote this book because we think we’re at a bit of a turning point, where our inability to adapt organizationally is changing from a frustrating dynamic, to a dangerous one. Where the mechanical approach is not just producing diminishing returns, but actively making things worse.

I don’t know the future. I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it’s going to begin. (Neo, in The Matrix).

We don’t give you all the answers in Humanize (because we don’t know them). But we give you enough to go on to start creating and growing human organizations starting right now. Are you ready? Let’s go.

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