Workshop on Characteristics of High-Performance Organizations
At Agile Tour Toronto last November, I conducted a workshop to get crowd-sourced research into high-performance organizational cultures. The purpose of this workshop was two-fold. First, to understand similarities and differences between organizational cultures. Second, to see if case-studies of high-performance cultures would resonate with Agile-oriented people.
The companies that were selected for study were:
- Zappos – amazing customer service
- Valve Corporation – everyone responsible for finding a project to contribute to (no hierarchy)
- Semco – where people pick their own salary and people choose their managers
- Netflix – where staff are managed like a professional sports team – only the best and non-performers are cut
- Beyond Budgeting – OK, this isn’t a company, but we used the composite characteristics of companies that move to decentralized control. It’s more about leadership than budgeting.
Each group was given a case study, and asked to summarize the following:
- Key Organizational Characteristics – What did the organization pay attention to and how did it structure itself?
- Business Benefits – What material business results were observed in that organization?
Happy Customers and Engaged Staff
When asked what the key benefits these companies found from their high-performance culture the aggregate results across all companies were happy customers and engaged staff. See image below. We played a short version of the game of 35 to arrive at this result.
With regard to the second goal of the workshop – the workshop participants were very interested and several indicated that they found learning about these cultures as valuable for understanding how to progress with Agile at an organizational level.
Zappos Characteristics and Benefits
I have photos of the results of some of the groups, but the lighting was terrible so it’s really hard to read. Below are the results for one group that was working on Zappos.
- Focused on long-term vision
- Customer oriented
- Fun and a little weirdness
- Team communication
- Personal and professional growth
- Delighted and repeat customers
- Employee retention
- Long-term growth
- Positive financial outlook
- Better ROI
I would like to thank all the participants for working together to understand each organization’s structure and to identify the key benefits. Based on the ratings and comments, it looks like people had fun.
I am very grateful for Thiagi for showing me how to create a great workshop out just some handouts so that I can get out of the way and let people learn directly.
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