There’s another story in Fast Company this month about two leaders who did a massive turnaround at an advertising company. One of the leaders was shocked to find that the rising stars in the organization not only didn’t work together much—some of them hadn’t met each other. This came as a shock to her because she had spent “a 19-year career at agencies where open space, flat structures, shouting matches, and collaboration were the only acceptable ways of working.”
That last phrase caught my attention: the only acceptable ways of working. That reflects a discipline that I don’t see enough in organizations. It is not enough to say how you want your organization to work. You have to take a stand on what is the only acceptable way of working. Then you have to enforce that.
Now, please avoid oversimplifying this advice. The workplace is complex, and you need to create a place where diversity thrives, so, in fact, the “only” acceptable way may have several flavors to it. But at the high level, you have to take a stand for the ways of working that you have determined to be a pre-requisite for success. When those are violated, you have to do something about it (similar to the quote I mentioned in this post).