A few weeks ago, we made a very interesting webinar with around thirty people, from different parts of Europe, and we had a stimulating round of questions that we are sure could inspire other persons. Let’s see some of these frequently asked questions (FAQ’s):
1.- Our question was about how K2K makes it possible in practice. The vision is neat, but the reality is probably messy!
It’s not easy to explain briefly, and each process is different, but I’ll try to resume the most significant steps:
a.- If you are going to make a global change of the company, from the beginning, the people who have the power to break the process must be absolutely involved. Property and CEO, of course. Maybe, in some cases, other people, natural leaders, unions… In this case, it’s not enough to allow the process. The property and the CEO should REALLY WANT the change. If the change is not in the whole company, but only in one area, if you are making a prototype, it could be enough if the property and the CEO allow the process, and the managers of the area are the ones who must really want the change. For this, the tools are readings, inspiring experiences, hours and hours of conversations, individual coaching, and so on. In our case, the task is accomplished when they sign the agreements and commitments document.
b.- All the people involved in the process of change must know the process and must have the opportunity to say, at least, if they are open to try it or not. If the process is about the whole company, everyone should be listened. If it’s a prototype, the people involved must be heard. To do this, the tools are the same as before, and in our case the task is accomplished with an assembly and a vote with more than 80% in favor.
c.- The third step is to quickly diagnose the situation of the company (4-6 weeks). You must talk to each person and try to know their thoughts and feelings about the situation of the company, you must analyze the financial and economical situation, you must know the state of products, markets, customers, providers…; you must analyze salaries and retribution system, and design a fairer an more efficient system; you must find the best role for middle managers, and get their agreement; you must design a new team structure, and help them to start working without bosses; you must design an “scoreboard” easy to understand for everybody; you must shoot down the offices and put people to work together… In our case we end this part usually with a new assembly where everyone accepts all these changes.
d.- From this point, the most important thing is that the people who are leading or taking the process must be very, very, very tenacious; they must be honest and walk the talk; they must spend most of the time looking after the people and helping them in the new situation; and above all, they must enjoy the trip!
2.- What are the main challenges you face in each of the companies?
In my experience, there are two critical challenges to guarantee the success of the process: the first one is to be sure that the property and the CEO really and honestly want the change. Sometimes, owners have problems with workers, or the company is in bad economic situation, or they haven’t real leadership and they really don’t want the change, they want a solution to the problem. When the problem is solved, they have the temptation to turn over the change, and sometimes they do.
The second critical challenge is, after the rush of the first moments of change and freedom, when people start to feel the responsibility, too; when they must face the problems and look for solutions, instead of waiting for somebody to do things. This is a moment of “maturation”, it’s like the “adolescence”, and it’s as complicated moment for the people as it is for the teenagers.
3.- What are the main benefits of NER for the companies (outside the social projects)?
– People is happier: not like rainbows and unicorns, but in the sense of feeling more involved, more valued; they feel that there is a “sense” fo their jobs.
– Company is stronger and lithe, it can face the challenges of this “liquid” environment in which we are living.
– Decisions are much more conscious and consistent, so it’s easy to make good decisions.
– Customers feel the change because everybody in the company is looking after them, so they becoming more faithful.
– Problems (oh yeah, there’re problems too!) have ways to be solved without fighting, but cooperating.
– Company finds a meaning, a purpose beyond the money.
– And, because of these things, money and profits rise in amazing amounts.
4.- A company with centralised and hierarchical structure will need to learn to decentralize the power system – any advice on how to support the process of “letting go of power” and getting a role in a shared responsibility?
There’re two problems with the power: for some people power is addictive, is like nicotine, once you have tasted it, is very difficult to leave… but not impossible. Many people find the strength to give up smoking, and it’s possible to lose the power and feel happy. I think the process is very similar in both situations: it’s necessary to realize the damage and the pain the power is making to yourself, and that is affecting the people next to you (collegues, familie…) too. And you can read, watch videos, conference, experiences, to convince yourself that you can… perhaps you need some additional help like coaching or something similar, and finally, you must make a decision.
For some people, power is a heavy charge imposed for the role and for structure. For these people, the change is a real liberation