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Transitioning your organization to self-management is a big decisions - one that should not be taken lightly. Do we at Octopy believe in it? 100%. But "implementing a self-management system" is very different than "effectively and humanely implementing an efficient and productive self-management system in a sustainably long-term way."
Take your time deciding. Do your research. Vet several systems. If you are going to hire outside help to implement it, vet different options there too. If a change happens, the only ones who will experience the impact are the human beings of your organization. Thus, you can't ask too many questions or get too much certainty to make sure you are doing right by them.
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How Do You Know What To Choose?
Like with any product or service, there are many different versions of self-management out there, a few of which we've talked about before. It can be hard to know which method to use until you actually try it, but trying it takes an investment of time and money. Worse, implementing incorrectly can cause a lot of problems which can be hard to fix. Today, I will share with you the things that took me years to learn were red flags and what I use now to find systems I trust and will work for me.
Would the marketing work for any other product?
Some of the major players in the self-management space have explanations ready to go that justify any difficulty you run into or confusion you have. These might include:
- "Trust the system."
- "Everyone needs to stick to the rules."
- "It makes things harder before it makes things better."
- "Give it 6 months to 2 years to get comfortable with it. You'll be grateful you did."
Now, apply these statements to literally any other product in your life. Would you buy the latest iPhone if this is how they defended user complaints? Would you want a car that you would struggle to drive for a year and believe that it would then be easier to drive than any other car once you got used to it?
I have implemented self-management for years and I can tell you from personal experience that none of these claims are necessary. The only time it took me years of convincing people to stick with it was when I was implementing a complicated system in an inefficient way. Once I changed how I introduced it to people, it became significantly easier. When I changed what I introduced them to, it became even easier still.
Does it sound too good to be true?
It is necessary for any company to market their products in the best way possible, but you should be aware of the difference between the ideal possibility and the common reality. Do they make any claims that seem a little too impressive?
- "Completely eliminates bureaucracy."
- "No more hierarchy."
- "One set of rules that apply equally to everyone."
Now, none of these immediately mean you're being lied to. There are companies out there that can factually say one or all of the above. However, there are many times when these are ideal claims which are unlikely to come to fruition.
First, look at how they structure things. Some systems claim there is no hierarchy, but later explain it as, "We've replaced the traditional hierarchy with what is now a hierarchy of __." Whatever that blank is, there is a chance it is still a normal hierarchy just with a different name and nuanced differences. If you are intentionally wanting to get rid of your hierarchy for a specific reason, make sure their particular means of altering hierarchy will accomplish that. Many times, it simply rebrands why or how people at the top have all the power.
When it comes to rules that apply to everyone, find out what their plan is for giving everyone the same level of training and exposure to the new rules - not just upper management. If the rules are changing and only managers gets the training, managers will be the only ones to know the rules and will have all the power again.
What do those who have worked in these systems say about them?
I have found that the most reliable way to get accurate information about these systems (if you don't have the opportunity to work in a company using them) is to ask around. Find people willing to share their experiences. Ideally, find people who aren't incentivized to make it sound good. Talk to companies who use it currently and are willing to share the good and the bad. Ask companies who tried it and dropped it. Ask employees who work(ed) at companies using these systems and get their opinions.
The goal of this isn't to find all the deepest, darkest secrets about how a system you thought was great is actually terrible. Nobody wants that. Instead, it's to understand that no system is perfect. Every system and pros and cons - you just need to find the one that sets honest, realistic expectations so that you can make an informed decision for your organization's future.
This is normally where the conclusion would be.
Replacing tradition with efficiency is kind of our thing.