A New Mantra

Take a look at this great video featuring Paul Green Jr. of Morning Star. In it, he describes how Morning Star operates without bureaucracy: no titles, no bosses, and no job descriptions.

Paul tells a fictional narrative to illustrate the starkly different way of thinking. If he comes home one night from work to find his kids crying in their pajamas and saying that their mother refused to feed, bathe, and take them to school, how ridiculous it would be for him to tell them, “Sorry but I can’t help. That’s not my job.” Yet that’s exactly the attitude we so often assume at work. Segregation of duties is such a deeply ingrained paradigm that we’re even unapologetic about it, like “how can they have ignorance/audacity to think I need to do that!?”

Paul drops a devastating line at around the 13 minute mark. He states that you can’t ask somebody to take total responsibly without granting them total freedom. I think this might as well be a mantra; the new “no taxation without representation.”

I have a close friend who works at a large and well known IT provider. One of the programming teams with which he works has faced dramatic slashes in headcount and budget while being pressured increase their output and follow all sorts of new, micromanaging rules. If they don’t, their bonuses and jobs are in jeopardy. As a result, the department has been further disrupted with higher than normal turnover, loss of the big picture, and internal squabbles and turf wars. We all know it, but we rarely have the energy to fight it: Bureaucracy Kills Productivity.

Paul’s ideas are all paradigms necessary for proprietism to work. Possibly the strongest takeaway is this: don’t chase numbers; just help each other and your organization will flourish.