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I Have 21 Radical Ideas — Responsive Engineering — Medium


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  • People have valuable insights, regardless of seniority.
  • No matter what your title, everyone in your organization is better than you at something.
  • Process prevents mistakes while also preventing innovation.
  • Ambiguity provides opportunity for innovation.
  • Efficiency is not a goal; it is a means that should be weighed against other means of increasing output.
  • When managers are responsible for people and directly credited for their output, perverse incentives abound.
  • Reporting structures do not need to dictate workflow; these can be decoupled.
  • Speeding up feedback loops is more effective than improving analysis quality.
  • A plan’s value decreases with time, even as the plan is being executed.
  • Planning only in increments provides opportunities to test assumptions and discover new strategies; this does not preclude having a long-term vision.
  • You must trust everyone you employ to do a good job; trust issues should be dealt with directly, not mitigated by constraints.
  • Solutions that come from people close to problems tend to be best.
  • Individual ownership of domains creates opaque silos, while rotational assignments break them down to increase transparency.
  • Consistency and quality emerge from transparency and empowerment.
  • Processes, reviews and standards that enforce quality and consistency limit them to local maxima.
  • The total cognitive capacity of the people at the bottom of an org chart exceeds that of the people at the top.
  • Leaders can drive better results by empowering and aligning than by managing.
  • Leadership is a role, not a rank.
  • Making the system work better is more effective than making the people work harder.
  • People are intrinsically motivated to work harder in a better system.

like it

Lots of companies THINK they have this culture.

I wonder if there's any way to build an immune system into the culture that self-reinforces this.

Hire people who are willing to whistle-blow when something deviates from this?

And then when the whistle gets blown, actually do something about it?

People need to be empowered and able to build the world they want. And if everyone is empowered then everything can be and will be called into question. Good ideas must fight to survive. I wonder what sort of companies, if any, actually pull this off.

leadership needs to believe this and exercise it from top down.  i doubt there is a way to build an immune system without leadership and mentoring...every organization is people

I soooo love this, & I've seen it proven it true. Sometimes it sucks to be the moral of the story though.

i think this can be boiled down to one radical idea (love all 21 btw):strong, trusting communication makes all the difference.

Nice list.  

My professional expertise is that Environments (including our internal physiological environment as well as any physical work/live places and the social cultures we inhabit) are the number one influence on human behavior.  For better and for worse results.

A primary assumption is that people make the best choice possible every moment given their circumstances.  Yet we can often overlook the fact that people quickly upgrade or destroy their environments and these are changing drivers of further behaviors.  We often simply view our own environments as an effect or consequence of our and other's intentional or insensitive behaviors, not as a dynamic feedback loop or driving force that creates our behaviors.

My experience with thousands of community and organizational innovation projects is that we can't empower someone else to make a "better" choice.  They will keep making their "best" choice until and unless we change their environments.  The damning thing about this is it doesn't take much to do so--for better and for worse--just spiking any environment with a few new elements (preferably positive ones, like from your list above) accelerates people's choices to behave differently and, in a preferred context, empower themselves for better actions and results.

Take care...all empowering has consequences.  The least damage done is helping others help themselves as they see fit to choose so.  Or not.

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