- Purpose: Each entity should have a clearly defined purpose that states its value (financial or social) within the organization. Every employee should know the purpose and value of his role within any group and the overall corporate entity.
- Radical Truth: Each member of the organization must uphold and seek the truth at all times, be true to themselves and act in accordance with the company’s principles. When communicating with peers, customers, vendors and competitors, employees must always speak honestly. It’s not enough for employees to believe that they are right—they must ensure they have the correct answer and the information or data to support it.
- Radical Transparency: Transparency builds trust within an organization. Employees should share information with (and never conceal anything from) their colleagues and respond transparently when providing feedback. Every member of the organization should know and understand each policy and decision from compensation to company strategy. If an employee has questions about how or why something is being done, they should ask for an explanation.
- Learn from Mistakes: Mistakes are part of being human; without exception, everyone makes them. To prevent errors from reoccurring, however, people have to learn from their mistakes and apply what they’ve learned to their work. This is the only way an organization—or an individual—can continuously improve. Eco-autonomous organizations are blame-free cultures where employees are encouraged to share their errors so that others can learn.
- Radical Self-Awareness: Every individual and organization has strengths and weaknesses. Being aware of these areas of excellence and vulnerability builds character, humility, and strength. Environments that actively encourage people to do and be their best foster creativity, spark innovation and increase performance. Employees should continuously strive for self-improvement, pursue opportunities to learn about themselves, and become aware of how their words and actions impact other people. Employees should be willing to share their development goals. When co-workers know what their teammates are working on, they can help each other reach their objectives.
- Radical Self-Management: Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have been told what to do—and how to behave—within the workplace. This practice continues in modern work environments to varying degrees. In eco-autonomous organizations, however, the goal is to hire people who can manage themselves, think proactively, identify problems, and take action to resolve them as needed.
As individuals, the only behavior we can truly manage is our own, yet self-management cannot replace execution or accountability. On the contrary, self-management requires individuals to be responsible not only for themselves but also for their groups’ performance and accountability.
While leaders will always be needed in work environments, these roles should be awarded based on merit. Managers, on the other hand, are not required. In self-managed groups, there aren’t managers to notify or complain to; each person is empowered to resolve challenges or problems as they arise.
- Radical Multi-Functional Teams: The siloed, single-function teams that exist within today’s organizations must be broken down to create agile, multi-functional teams that will thrive in a VUCA world.
- Fight Cognitive Bias with Data: All humans suffer from cognitive bias (the belief that what we think is “right” and what others think is “wrong”). These subconscious beliefs often cause people to jump to conclusions and act without thinking. Thousands of years ago, making decisions instinctively saved our ancestors from predators, however, leaping to judgment today can cause serious problems in the workplace.
Fortunately, organizations can now use data and analysis to combat these biases. By setting up functions and processes to collect as much information as possible, and using analysis to determine which processes are working and which are not, companies can use data to make decisions. However, significant decisions should never be based solely on statistics. Logic, common sense and data with sound analysis are necessary for making informed decisions.
- Resolve Conflicts through Merit Voting: By following the principles listed above, workers should be able to successfully engage with others. When disagreements arise, employees should use the principles above as a guide for resolving conflict. If an agreement can’t be reached, the organization’s merit voting system should be used to address the issue. We will discuss this concept in more detail later in this book.