And in this case, being self-management.
<Not easy to find an image on being (loads of yoga pictures) and self-management (loads of usual corporate or hustle-like images). So this will have to do.>
And onto the story of a small but ridiculously ambitious and determined group of people (nicknamed Transformers because of the organisation’s name — People and Transformational HR or PTHR as we abbreviate it) continues.
We’ve been a larger team since the tail end of 2019 and into the COVID-afflicted 2020. So we’re in our 4th year as a team of more than 3.
We’ve seen people come and go and some stay. 4 of us from 2019/20 and the other 5 over the last 24 months.
So we’re pretty established in knowing each other. And we’re much clearer on what we do, and how we do it, and riding shockwave upon shockwave of COVID and other global turmoil and turbulence, forged a very strong, kind, loving and dedicated bond.
Maturing as a team is something no one’s ever said would be easy. So we went about it as inclusively as we could by optimising how we are as a primary focus. What we do and how we make that commercially viable and impactful and honourable were obviously other considerations.
And after doing a lot of refining and shaping in a very open space manner, we were really starting to feel we had something. And we do.
But having something comes with a challenge. The yearning, the drive, the creativity and the quest to have something dissipates when you’ve got it.
I’ve often said I prefer semi-finals to finals. That is, the thrill of getting to the final doesn’t match the actual final to me. Even if there’s a winning outcome. You need the final as the prize and perhaps the thought of winning as the ultimate prize. And I guess the quest can shift to preserving and repeating the win. But I’m still not comforted by winning. I like there to be more. Always more. Always better. Whatever the definition of more and better means.
When you have “it” what then? is the question I often trouble myself with — perhaps too much for some. Enjoying the win? Sure. But revelling in the thought of the win is much more palatable and exciting to me.
So, arriving as a well-orchestrated self-managed team and enterprise is not the game for me. I guess the infinite game is. Something Simon Sinek articulated in his book. But not just the Sinek version, useful though I am sure he tries to be in all his work.
Never arriving is my quest.
And that, I believe, is also what our enterprise is all about. The journey is the destination is a phrase that comes to mind.
Because in arriving comes a range of interesting human behaviours and instances.
- Misdirected efforts
- Unhelpful heuristics or short-cuts/corners-cut
- Misaligned objectives
- Misfiring deeds
- Insensitive words and gestures
- Hubris even
To be clear, as a team, we’re kind, thoughtful, very caring, committed and dedicated to each other and what we have. So we were not slipping into that above list, or at the point of danger, crisis or anything at all troubling or worrying.
But that doesn’t mean you should wait until things like that might appear.
So as a source and founder, I believe it’s part of my role to be on guard for things that could become too comfortable, cosy and a little off the mark. And if I let things be, they might compound, escalate and become the slippage I certainly didn’t want to see or feel and nor do the team.
It’s like that in all teams, organisations and cultures. It’s how things go wrong. Like bankruptcy. It happens slowly then all of a sudden.
And we are better than that. We want to be better than that and we are restless in our devotion to each other and our cause because that’s what makes us feel and be different and be part of something special. We are just not going to settle for OK, or reasonable or even mediocre and we’ll be unapologetic in that aim.
We started with noticing. And in some of our time together on a 1:1 basis things started to emerge into conversations. Nothing too harsh or drastic but what I began to want to categorise them. So I did. As this.
Tiny acts or inactions towards things. Easy enough to brush off, when you’re busy or over-engaged in something.
And that caused me to notice something else. An absence. Not easy to always notice something that’s not there.
Wins, gains, positives, help, the excitement that wasn’t being celebrated, noticed and reflected as much as could be.
That formed the basis of some of the rationale behind my take on this and to bring something into play for us.
A week in and the difference is noticeable and the commitment and the way we’re going to both systematise things and adapt and evolve.
There was the word. Evolve. Not transform, start-middle-end. Not a change programme or even just declare and hope it all shifts.
And in some of the exchanges with people some REALLY thoughtful shares. To help me realise this.
I am not “doing” self-management, I’m being self-management.
A big difference.
I guess if self-management isn’t your ideology it might be not doing communication but being it. Not doing culture but being it. Not in the traffic, you are it.
And so we’re evolving into something and our early stages of shifting and making this become a reality from an ideology are around one key thing.
Making culture building part of our work; our backlog; our impact-creating task list.
That is doing but also with added depth, so we’re being it too. We’re reminding ourselves we’re not in a culture, we are it.
Our first stage of this is underway and the signs of evidence, witnessable acts and words and deeds and doing are there. And we captured it in a fresh declaration for us.
I posted this on Employee Appreciation Day (3 March) to some likes but we believe this is a huge commitment.
In line with Teal principles, how can you have Wholeness as an organisation when you aren’t able to be a big part of helping people with their entire life? What’s outside of work affects the inside, and vice-versa. We don’t have a work and life switch we are BOTH.
And that’s the point of us being self-management not just doing self-management. And why we’re upping our game, evolving, enhancing our team agreements, our practices and rituals, culture building, and aligning self-determined interests with collective support, gain and drive.
It’s why we are going way beyond engagement to a state of flourishing. Or as Aristotle defined Eudaimonia: the highest sense of human good.
“But it’s only work” some might declare. But it’s not that simple, is it? Work, life, being, doing, our personality and our time in solitude, our social connections and our time with others. They’re all part of life’s tapestry. And work is a big part of that (in a paid, employed or self-employed sense) until it’s not. And then there’s other work to do.
As we get older and our minds and bodies become frailer, we work at staying healthy and cognitively aware.
If we eschew the corporate life and go and live in the mountains we work at that.
Whatever we are, we are work, life, love, joy, rest, play, adventures, mindfulness and everything in between. We direct our lives as best we can.
And in work, our determination at PTHR to have one rule — we will be self-managed — is a reflection of that.
Directing ourselves as best we can, AND recognising we’re part of something that does not, should not and will not exclude other considerations and our own colleagues.
The organisation — in becoming in itself an “it” and having a spirit, essence and sense of something more important to us — provides the framework; but then that has to evolve with the people.
It cannot stand still for it houses our minds and thoughts, our spirit and intent, our dreams and goals, our acts and actions. We have to shift ourselves, each other and the thing we’re a part of.
So that’s what we’re bringing to life and being. With our own individual and collective evolution and our being self-management. Not even with it. But being it. In OD terms we talk of “self-as-instrument”. So that. But all the time.
I’m excited and I sense the team’s growing intrigue in this evolution. We’ll go where others may have been before, but maybe not. We are steadfast in our purpose and tinkering all the time with our doing, and now, we’re focusing on our being.
We will be the most life-friendly organisation on the planet. Irrespective of size, position and so on. We just will be that. And a part of that is our evolution as an entity that we come together in (PTHR); the socialised elements of being with other people (our team) and the individualised, maturing, adapting, self-authoring and transformational minds and souls we have (ourselves).
Me, We, It. And the systems that bind us all.
Being me, being us, being it. Being our system.
Our inspiration comes from our friends and more widely but still federated colleagues
- Semco Style Institute,
- Tuff Leadership,
- Teal Around the World,
- Reinventing Work, and
- Individuals — you know who you are so won’t do a “wall of fame” — but without you, we’d be lonelier and perhaps have less fortitude than we could.
We are being self-management with thanks, gratitude and appreciation to those of you who “know”. We want to share, learn and evolve with you. You’re as much of us, as we are you and we want to be self-management with you.
More to come…