Beyond Measure

Today, in the age of big data, lots of businesses are consumed by metrics. If we don’t have numbers or we can’t measure something, then how can we figure out what step we need to take next? Unfortunately, there a some things in this world that go further than what we can measure.

Relationships are a good example. You can’t measure the relationship that you have with your family, partner or friends. The same goes with how you can’t measure the relationship that you have in business. However, many of them have the capability of creating something amazing if they make a good team.

This article looks at how these social relationships manage and what businesses can do to accomplish great things from minor adjustments.

Creative conflict within companies can be learned through practice and supportive structures

You’ve most likely been in the situation where during a business meeting, you end up disagreeing with someone’s business decision. However, you keep your opinion to yourself because you don’t want to want to seem mean.

If you don’t engage in a debate, you won’t be benefiting the business. That’s why companies need to alter this ineffective tendency. Instead, they need to promote creative conflict. Just like most things in this world, it can be learned from practice.

First and foremost, you need to be prepared to disagree and question the general agreement. That way fresh and interesting thoughts can be developed. However, most people aren’t aware of the fact that it takes skill to effectively disagree.

Brooke Deterline, a constructive conflict specialist, is often surprised by how her clients believe that they won’t have any trouble managing team discussions for the first time. Despite that, people completely understand that learning a language, an instrument, public speaking, or any other skill for that matter take lots of time and practice. When it comes to creative conflict and to voicingyour opinion effectively so that you can directly approach the conflict, there is no difference. You still need to practice until it’s perfect.

The initial step that you need to take is the realization that you need to practice as well as get yourself a supportive team prior to debating with the executives of your company.

Luke was one of the clients that Deterline had trained through this exact process when he had wanted to stand up to his hostile manager so that he could negotiate his contract. The first thing that they did was envision how the scene would go. They thought about numerous ways that his manager would reply to various points and created the right replies for Luke to say. He talked to some of his coworkers for some more insight and support. This got him to feel even stronger in his position which positively impacted his preparation to talk to his manager efficiently. When he had finally spoken to his manager, he did so confidently since he knew what to say and replied the way he was supposed to when his not-so-nice manager threw little tantrums.

Social capital is a prerequisite for constructive conflict and it can be built through small actions

Have you ever had to do a group project with people that you were unacquainted with? If so, you witnessed how unproductive the conversations were since every person felt shy and uncertain.

To deal with this kind of circumstance, you need to incorporate constructive conflict. That’s essential if you want your team to function effectively, a social capital.

The idea of social capital is not recent. Early anthropologists had come up with the phrase to help illustrate why specific tribes had flourished. It’s also describes how feel citizens in a society where they can depend on each other for assistance. To this day, it is a prominent survival instrument for businesses. Additionally, if you put together creative conflict with social capital, your business will be prosperous for years on end.

Companies can achieve that when they participate in creative conflict. The knowledge that they gain from it, helps employees get more comfortable with each other, thus making their relationship better. As a result, there’s more social capital amongst the team which helps increase trust. This also helps coworkers feel more confident to take on creative conflicts in the future.

However, creative conflict isn’t the only way that you can create social capital.

For instance, there was one business that had used another method of creativity to make collaborations better within various departments. The CEO had created a project for the entire company. Each department was in charge of making a short movie that summarised the key jobs of each department. They obviously didn’t have to create Oscar-nominated movies. They just had to do little things that would contribute towards the creation of social capital, and fortunately, the project did exactly that. At the end, the entire company got together at a movie theater to look at the final product. The movies ended up being very artsy and interesting and as a result, the uncooperative team began to converse with one another and thus began to create bonds.

Working too much reduces productivity, cognitive ability and health

You’d think that by working more, you’d get more done, but that may not exactly be the case. Over a century ago, the scientist, Ernst Abbe, had found out that by cutting a workday shorter from 9 to 8 hours had actually made the overall productivity better.

Today’s studies show the same results with conclusions that those who work more than 40 hours per week are not as productive and tend to make more mistakes. Both of those facts decrease the efficiency of a company.

Despite this, some businesses still remain oblivious to these statistics. Excluding fields such as aviation and truck driving since overworked employees can get into horrible accidents, others still think that workaholics are the top employees.

This continues to be true even with compelling facts. For instance, although half of every merger and acquisition deals fail, not many people wonder if that had to do with the fact that the CEO was tired, and as a result, didn’t make the best choice but could have been prevented had they worked a bit less.

If you work too much, you could get tunnel vision. This happens when people are exhausted, their capacity to think straight goes away, they usually become obstinate when it come to making decisions, they don’t make an effort to adjust to changes in situations nor are they able to see the issues at hand. Typically in these kinds of circumstances, people start working inefficiently and thus, they have to work more. On top of that, being overworked can unfortunately cause you to have issues with your health. In fact, in 2012, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health concluded that if you work 11 hours per day, you have twice the chance of being diagnosed with depression. Those who work more than 55 hours a week can begin to start showing signs of language and problem-solving skill loss halfway through their life.

Companies can find innovation by working with outsiders and connecting to the world

Despite popular belief, the analytical brain of a scientist and the abstract brain of an artist make a very productive pair. In fact, together, they can come up with revolutionary ideas.

Take a look at what happened at Roche Pharmaceuticals. Matthias Essenpreis, who was the team leader, couldn’t come up with any ideas as his team brainstormed ways to make the business’s diabetes products better. As a result, he realized that they needed a fresh and different perspective so he decided to do things a little different. He invited an artist to work with them.

This approach was very effective. His team came up with logical solutions, while Kelly Heaton, who was the artist that he hired, used a more holistic method. Instead of thinking about the technical parts, she looked at the problem from the point of view of a diabetes patient.

Additionally, she had really good communication skills and with her new perspective, she ended up asking the kind of questions that would perplex the scientists. In 2003, Roche’s team ended up creating a diabetes pack that included a creative and new device that let patients administer insulin and at the same time, be able to measure their blood sugar.

If you think outside of the box, you can get rid of boundaries that would have otherwise linked you to other companies.

By default, businesses usually look inward. They make secure policies and they look into items that are safe so that they can keep a convenient status quo. Today, though, they now realize that real creativity is inspired by businesses that think of themselves as collective pieces to an even greater corporate image.

You can really see this change in perspective in ARM, which is a company that concentrates on semiconductor and software design. Initially, this business only had 12 employees. To expand it so that they could increase production, ARM figured out that they needed to collaborate with bigger companies that had many more employees. Instead of fighting on their own, they became larger by joining a part of another company. To this day, most of ARM’s employees work at other companies for the majority of their time.

Flat hierarchies enable more innovation and prevent bad leadership

The businesses that don’t work together are usually much less creative than the ones that do. However, the whole point of a company is to collaborate. Therefore, those that do want to introduce collaboration should establish a flat hierarchy. This type of business structure gets rid of the middle management that isolate employees from executives.

An advocate of flat hierarchies and CEO of South Africa’s FirstRand Bank, Paul Harris is really attracted to how much more effective the strategy makes teams.

Vertical hierarchies are too difficult because of the long line of managers. The movement of information from the executive level to the last one usually gets lost in the middle and thus those that are underneath them don’t hear what it is that their bosses want from them. Flat hierarchies, on the other hand, lets everyone have their idea heard and thus the surroundings are much more creative.

When FirstRand Bank had initially brought in the flat hierarchy system, the concept of letting clients use their electronic payment method on their smartphones to transfer money was implemented with no difficulty and now is a service for every member of FirstRand Bank.

On the other hand, if someone has too much power, the results are horrifying.

The research conducted about this concludes that when a person becomes powerful, they become worse listeners. They no longer take into consideration the ideas of others. Instead, they get so caught up in following their own goals that the thoughts, feelings and perspectives of others get thrown out the window.

These characteristics are rooted from the fact that they carry all of the responsibility and thus, they don’t want to ask for help since it could make them look incapable. Therefore, using the flat hierarchy within your company is one method that’ll give you more chances at having a good leader.

Final Summary

In order to have a successful business, you can’t just focus on making billions of dollars in profit. Instead, you need to promote creativity, innovation, and healthy communication. This can be done with some minor, but crucial changes. Some of those changes include decreasing your work hours, making hierarchies flatter, and supporting employees to speaking up. These little changes can make a significant impact.

Practical Advice:

Be a leader despite the position that you hold.

Regardless of whether you are the CEO of a business or just an employee, try to grasp any opportunity to push the team that you are in towards success. For instance, try not to be afraid of stating your idea whenever you can. At first, this could cause some people to roll their eyes, but in the future, your team will thank you for standing up in what you believe in and it also shows that you really cherish the business.