Today we continue our discussion on the Nine Lies About Work book series with Lie #3 The Best Companies Cascade Goals.
We talk about the dual polarity of Management and Leadership and how we must keep a constant balance through articulating the meaning/values of the organization while still focusing on being effective and making progress.
Thanks for joining us today and don't forget to hit the subscribe button or reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Knight 0:05
By the way, I started, I got a new keyboard.
Robert Greiner 0:08
Oh, Which one did you buy?
Charles Knight 0:09
the Logitech MX keys?
Robert Greiner 0:12
MX keys? Yeah, yeah, that's a great choice.
Charles Knight 0:15
Dude. Is it? Yeah, I think you've mentioned it to me that that's very nice. It's nice and hefty.
Robert Greiner 0:21
Charles Knight 0:22
Nice, nice and responsive. The keys, it's a feels real good.
Robert Greiner 0:27
That is the keyboard, in my opinion, that right before you get into all the weird like mechanical switches, and like really detailed layouts and the infinite space, which is keyboards, which you wouldn't really think that's like that. That's the one to keep it simple. And you have an exceptional keyboard.
Charles Knight 0:46
Robert Greiner 0:47
And you just move on with your life. That's the way to go.
Charles Knight 0:50
Charles Knight 0:51
I can understand how you spend lots of money on peripherals, because now that I got this, it's Oh, I should upgrade my mouse.
Igor Geyfman 0:57
Really like a spiral that happens. It starts with a nice mouse, and then a keyboard. And then at the end of today, I'm going to have a big metal rack for a driving simulator. So that's the entropic state of buying accessories.
Robert Greiner 1:16
You get one Windows machine, and then you just go off the rails.
Igor Geyfman 1:19
Charles Knight 1:20
Steve Jobs would turn over in his grave.
Igor Geyfman 1:23
He is he's very disappointed in me. Although I do make it a point to buy the most like stylish available PC products.
Charles Knight 1:30
I don't know. I don't know if he would give you a pass on that
Igor Geyfman 1:34
He wouldn't. He would be disgusted.
Robert Greiner 1:37
You and Steve Jobs share a similar aesthetic disgust at Silicon Valley quote, by the way, I don't know if you caught that.
Charles Knight 1:43
I didn't I've never seen it.
Robert Greiner 1:45
It's pretty funny. Now. Yeah,
Charles Knight 1:47
I keep hearing that. It's
Robert Greiner 1:49
inappropriate, but pretty funny. Regardless. So we're back on our series. Today. We're back. We're back on the series. What is this lie number three, this is line number three, just for some inside baseball. We were going to record this last week. And it got the conversation got derailed. And so none of what we recorded will ever see the light of day. What was it about? Because you came to the conversation? Like you didn't you did not want to talk lie number three, what was it?
Igor Geyfman 2:19
I'm gonna I'm gonna maybe it's not just lie number three. It's now the third lie in. And there's a level of frustration that I've started to develop with this book that I didn't have when I initially read it. I think when I read it, I didn't critically think about the structuring and the language of the book. It was just like, yeah, here's a headline or the lie. It felt fairly innocuous. I'd read the chapter, it sort of made sense. There's a lot of data backed positions and assertions in it. And so it seemed like fairly uncontroversial. And so I stopped even like giving a lot of credence to the actual phrasing of the lie. And and now like, the more we've gotten into this book, and have started to discuss it critically, and have started to pick apart some of the specific language that's being used. I've started to take offense to the phrasing of the lies, because I
Charles Knight 3:15
We've converted him, Robert.
Charles Knight 3:16
Robert Greiner 3:16
Maybe so. You know, what's funny is, I have a little bit more of an optimistic take, I'm going to share later it's that that's funny, that will ebb and flow. So is it similar to if you're a chef and you go to a restaurant and they put some cumin in a dish that has no room for cumin? And you're like, what, why did you do that? Or if you're a poet and someone phrases a paragraph a certain way? Is it like you're talking about but does it offend your like sort of leadership sensibilities? What is it about that? Because I think I feel the same way you do, but I really can't verbalize it. I think the way that we've referred to them before is like clickbait. And what I started to, and this is like a grim look at it. I was just like, I feel like these titles are disingenuous, like the whole, it starts to mess with the whole premise and title of the book. It's like the nine lies about work. And here are the lies. People care which company they work for. That's a lie. best plan wins. We talked about that last time. That's a lie. Today's lie, the best companies cascade goals,
Robert Greiner 4:19
and you're supposed to take the position of the book.
Igor Geyfman 4:22
Yeah. And, and I do, the reason why I brought this up in the first place was because the content of the chapters I'm behind, I would say 80 to 90%. I'm behind the content of the book. I feel like that one has, excuse me, it has good research connected to it. And it makes pretty important salient points for leaders. It's just the title ruins it for me the lies the way that the lies are phrased. They're disingenuous, you know,
Charles Knight 4:48
what sort of harm Are we recording by the way?
Robert Greiner 4:50
Charles Knight 4:50
What's what sort of harm do you think that is potentially causing? Or is it just purely like a stylistic Hey, why don't you just get to the point as opposed to having a clickbait title sort of thing. Is there a true problem and how they're presenting it, or is it just stylistically rubbing us the wrong way?
Igor Geyfman 5:08
It's probably more stylistically. Because if I were to just consume the book by reading the title of the book, and then reading each of the lies, and not reading any of the content, I feel like it would be doing a lot of harm. Because there is there is a need to cascade goals to some degree. And what really what they're talking about in this chapters is not, not cascading goals. They're talking about the truth, right? The truth today is the best companies cascade meaning. And so if you're actually reading the book, and you get into the content, I don't think there's any harm being done with the phrasing, because the meat of it is pretty good. But if you are only reading the titles, the lies, and so on, you may walk away feeling like you've been informed, but you won't know how to properly apply that
Robert Greiner 6:03
I have a similar thought we talked about, I think it might be less about the phrasing, or even clickbaity. For me. We talked about it yesterday. Or last time, though. line number two, the best plan wins went on this in depth issue around planning and plans and how they're immediately outdated when you create them. And we put way too much emphasis like all of those things are true to a degree. And then their solution is for Oh, no, really, you're talking about decision making. And today, when we talk about the best companies cascade goals, and the authors say no, it's really meaning it they take this idea around goal setting, and they conflate it with this idea around needing to propagate and exude vision throughout the company in the organization. And that's that's a valuable thing at face value. You don't have to throw anything out what they really should have just done. I think it say, hey, this one component is really important. Add this in, don't add and take, because what you're taking, you're adding
Charles Knight 7:02
Cascade vision. I like that. Yeah, yeah,
Robert Greiner 7:04
they're not the same thing. In kind, what you're adding and removing. And so I agree with some of the points here, it's Yeah, you need a grand vision. JFK, though. Like he also said, Hey, we're gonna put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. If that's not a goal that cascades I don't know, I don't know what is those things are needed to do meaningful things. This book in this chapter is not saying, don't go and create goals and hold people accountable to them and do good management practices, they're saying, and you need stuff like reminders and culture, and stories within your organization to keep everyone aligned. Because if the human is not aligned with the values of the organization, they should go somewhere else. And where they are aligned. And I agree with that, it just shouldn't come at the expense of like, just dissing goals, and how that all works and management by objectives and okrs. Like that, those two things, that they're just different. And so I think that's what the book falls short for me.
Charles Knight 8:01
They're, they're pitching these things as, like one or the other sort of thing. When we're saying that you need them both. I don't even know. I was gonna say it's a false dichotomy. But it's not it's, is it throwing the baby out with the bathwater sort of thing. because they're bad,
Robert Greiner 8:19
I think you need it, maybe you needed an enemy or something like that, right? You could have just had nine, nine things you should add to your leadership repertoire. Nine things your organization can't live without,
Igor Geyfman 8:30
Robert Greiner 8:30
But the approach, though, that they got stuck in is, we have to give you something wrong. And a lot of times what they say is wrong. There's there's an element of truth in it. But then what they say you need, which also may be on its own, at face value in isolation is valuable as well. But when you put those two things together, that's when it gets backwards.
Igor Geyfman 8:52
I think I have the benefit of just like ignoring the lies. Once I started reading the chapter. It was just like, okay, like, that's fine. The title maybe is problematic, but the content here is good. I'm gonna I got a lot out of this.
Robert Greiner 9:06
Yeah. Yeah, and you can.
Igor Geyfman 9:08
And now the second time through, I'm still getting stuff out of it. So it's a great book. I think they chose a framing, which they felt would capture the audience's short attention span. And I and to me, it seems like a cynical approach. Like I think that the authors here were a little too cynical about their audience. And using that framing, this is what where they landed.
Robert Greiner 9:36
Yeah, and I think how it starts so the way that lie three was framed up around an individual setting a goal around running a marathon. And what they say is goals enable us to take what we value. So this person did not want to run a marathon for marathon sake. She wanted to run a marathon as an indication as a proxy for being healthy, and so she had this value. And the goal to run a marathon enabled her to take what she valued and added detail, and timelines and concreteness to a value. That's that was a great example, then they go on to say, if you cascade goals, it's like the telephone game, they lose their meaning when it gets down to the individual implementer that they don't like being talked to that way, and they're going to rebel against it. And it's probably not correct to begin with. And so therefore, you should just cascade meaning. And then they go into the whole, like, how chick fil a gives everyone off on Sundays, and how Facebook makes it look like they're going out of business tomorrow, because they want to move fast. But Apple cares about aesthetic. And if you care about aesthetic, and you want things really well put together, maybe you should work for Apple and not Facebook, like those things are valid. That's that has nothing to do with goals and cascading goals. And so that would would have been a great chapter on how these kind of vision and culture type things drive behaviors and get people moving. But again, there's just a bit of a miss on, on how they relate to one another.Igor Geyfman:
And maybe the key word that bothers me about this particular lie is this cascade. And so the reason why that's problematic, according to the book, and then I think in practice, is that when your goal is given to you by a third party, right? To be your boss, can be your partner, to be your doctor, whoever, right. Like it's not effective. Because the best goals are the ones that you set for yourself, not ones that are not even necessarily set by other people, but dictated by what your goal might should be. Most companies don't have, you know, one executive that sits down creates the larger objective, breaks that down into smaller objectives hands that down break settlers usually doesn't happen like that. But there's like little cascades that happen little waterfalls, and but every time it's like a top down dynamic with the cascade, and I think that's the thing that's problematic, not goal setting. And but the way that the lie is written, especially if you don't, you're probably coming into this not understanding the nuance of the language being used. And so you probably think, oh, goals bad, you know,Robert Greiner:
And then they start the whole chapter around how goals are good? Yeah, if you're the one creating a goal for yourself, they're good because they manifest your values. But then all of a sudden, when you do try to do goals at an organizational level, then they're evil somehow. It's like, how does that work? There are right ways and wrong ways to do this. But again, there, it just the connections not there.Charles Knight:
How about we just talk about what should be done, and how to do it? Like I think I want to, I want to leave behind criticizing the book, because I think we're in agreement like that. And I think we're now in alignment as to why we're criticizing the book. But there's a lot of value. I keep thinking about the I think this was from the book teams of teams. Or maybe this was from Jocko Willing, I can't remember. But the idea of, hey, you can get told what to do, like in a very detailed way, you have a mission plan, and you're a Navy SEAL team, but along with that detailed plan that you meticulously trained for and practice executing, along with it comes commander's intent behind executing that mission. So that way, when you start executing the plan, and you meet the enemy, the plan goes out the window, each person of the team is empowered to do whatever they need to do to achieve commander's intent.Robert Greiner:
And the Why, yes,Charles Knight:
the why Yeah, that's the vision. Right, Robert, that your time I like it, to me, this is all the same thing. It's a problem of at scale. How do you motivate teams, who are just composed of individuals who all have their unique motivations and challenges and biases towards a common objective, which there is no typically these things are complex, complex objectives, it's not a real easy thing to do. And to me, I think that's the problem of businesses in general or human organizations in general, it's trying to galvanize people who have their own motives and desires and wants and dreams and strengths and weaknesses towards a common objective without micromanaging, which I think is maybe what the book is saying about cascading goals and telling them exactly what they need to do. But also without giving them No, no guidance whatsoever. Commander intent alone is not enough to get a team going in, you need both right? You need both and that it's up to the leader to provide both if commander intent is not given provide one to your team. If a goal is not given where a plan is not provided, provide the beginnings of that because without both of them, teams will just drifts and eventually spiral out of control. And they'll be out of alignment with the overall organizational goals and objectives. At least that's how I'm thinking about it like,Robert Greiner:
I fully agree. You have your, let's call it objectives, which are tactical and have numbers associated with them. And then you have your commander's intent, which is the why. And it's really those are polarities that you have to dance back and forth around as a leader, because sometimes, there's the vision that's lacking, people are too mired in the details. We've talked about this in our essentialism episodes. And then other times you everybody's really inspired around something, but no one knows how to move forward. And that's a constant balance, you're never in the pendulum never just like sits in the middle there, you're always swaying back and forth. Igor, you're muted.Igor Geyfman:
How embarrassing in my mind, and I don't know if this is the right way to create this dichotomy. But as Charles was describing his thoughts, it made me think of one is an expression of leadership, and one is an expression of like management. So the commander's intent, the why in your mind is the expression of leadership, the goals, the okrs, the objectives that whatever, however you you measure it are the management side, yes. And it's two sides of a sword, you need both of them to be effective, like you need the vision, you need leadership that you're bringing to bear on your team. But you also need the management part. And if one one of those is missing, then you're going to have a less than effective team, you're going to have a team that maybe is inspired, but doesn't quite have the full understanding of the tactics and the things that need to get done. Or you might have a team that understands the objectives and the tactics really well. But it's not motivated, because they don't understand why they're doing it. They feel like a cog in the machine. And I think the lie number three here is like railing against situations where you have this like, management, heavy approach with no leadership to give it meaning. And that's what's missing. So it's not like an either or, it's not a but it's not a goals or meaning. And I think when you frame something as a lie, it tends to create a black and white this versus this context. And I think that's specifically for this is lie I was having such a hard time with it. And Charles is always you're able to, to get to the core of the issue here. Yeah, I completely agree with you. That's what I got out of your assessment, Charles,Robert Greiner:
and he didn't even read the book. It's a superpower, you had a superpower.Charles Knight:
I think this is helpful. Because if you need to wield both sides of the sword, then as a leader, there's, it's a question of, Okay, what are the signs that you need to look for that, that indicate to you which side of the sword you need to use in any given point in time, right, now, we can boil it down to that. So what are your thoughts on because I keep going back to in a lot of situations and scenarios when I'm coaching people, individual contributors, but also leaders of teams, I tell them so much of what we do when we help our clients, but also when we help our employees is we have to meet them where they're at, like we have to meet them, where they're at, based off of their understanding their capabilities, their preferences and styles of work. It's always that So to me, my answer to that question of what are the signals that you need to look forward to see or should you be leading or managing to me the skill is an example of a skill is you have to get really good at sensing, right sensing where an individual person is at. And that requires a lot of listening. And for me an example of when I need to wield the side of the sword of leadership, and emphasize the vision, the meaning the why whatever you want to call it, is when somebody on my team is mired in the details, and not only mired in the details, but they're lost. They're like, I've been doing this, this, I see this and this, that means this deadline is here. And these are these risks. And when they stop, they're like, Yeah, I don't know what to do. It's just like they report all the facts. And then it's, I don't know what the sowhat is, like, All right, great. Let's take a step back. And let's remember, why are we here? What are we trying to accomplish overall? What's the strategic objective here?Robert Greiner:
Yeah, it makes sense. There is a useful thread in this chapter that we can pull on. So I'm going to go ahead and stipulate I don't maybe I'm wrong and just short sighted and not free thinking. The ability to organize people and mobilize them to achieve goals and objectives as part of an organization is a hyper valuable thing. And in my mind, even though the chapter tries to conflate that's outside the scope of this chapter. What is valuable though, is this idea around meaning and the articulation of organizational values driven by the leader. through communication, and rituals, what the what the book calls rituals. So chick fil a they talk about is one of my favorite fast food places, but they're closed on Sundays. And another thing they do is they only let you have one franchise. And their thinking is if you only have one, you're going to put all as the owner, you're gonna put all your time in the one franchise, you're going to get to know what the community around you needs. And you're going to turn into a community leader and they want to build community leaders, they don't want to build the biggest fast food empire on the planet, even though they probably could. So that's a great example of a value you may not agree with it. But it is a firm value that is cascaded in the organization, diffused in organization through communication and rituals. And so I think that's an important thing to bring to the table as leaders and to help, you know, facilitate nudge and guide and set the example for just has nothing to do with cascading goals or getting real work done. It has more to do with keeping people engaged bought in and and moving in the same general direction. Yeah?Igor Geyfman:
I think that's right. I have a chick fil a anecdote if I can go on a little tangent.Robert Greiner:
Yes, please.Igor Geyfman:
Yeah. So when when the pandemic started, and we still didn't really know a lot about COVID, and how it spreads and all those other sort of things, I Chick-fil-a was the only fast food place that I trusted to prepare food in a way that would be safe. And that's not because I read some sort of study from them that said, Hey, here are all the things that we're doing. Like I didn't read their press releases and compare them to the press releases of McDonald's or Popeyes or whatever, just for I think, for that reason of like focus and the way that they seemingly run their restaurant, I just felt confident that they would do their utmost to, you know, create an environment of safe food handling that was safe for their employees, and was safe for their customers. And I felt good about patronizing them when during the pandemic. So as a consumer, I felt, I think they're the intention that they have, through all these systems that I read about in the chapter. And I think other consumers felt the same way. I think like the lines that chick fil a never seem to go away, regardless of what phase we were in the pandemic. And I wonder if that holds up in their revenue data.Robert Greiner:
And this goes back to what we just talked about, we, you could not have achieved that without the vision and ethos around how chick fil a operates. But also, there are guidelines and standards in place, so that all the chick fil A's are safe. Otherwise, you just have a bunch of really well meaning well, meaning humans trying to be safe, but not actually knowing if they are or if they're putting anyone in danger or themselves. Those require objectives and measures, and feedback and correction, and evolution, all with the group of people driving towards with the mentality of we're creating the safest possible work and work environment and environment for our customers. And no one's going to get COVID here. I don't know if that's what they said or what they did. But I have the same feeling. There's a bunch of places I haven't eaten that in over a year, go to chick fil a almost every week. A lot of that has to do with that feeling. But it's not an again, you need both of those things. These are two sides. You can't survive without one or the other.Igor Geyfman:
They had to operationalize the other side of it.Robert Greiner:
Yeah, yes, that's right.Charles Knight:
So question for you all, we could talk in terms of chick fil a or not. But I think something I've been pondering, as y'all have talked, the three of us, even our company, we're very value driven, not like value in terms of dollars, but values driven is probably the right way to say it. We use our values to inform decision making and prioritize things and stuff like that. But I guess I would ask you all is how important is it that everybody on the team share those values? How important is it on a team for everybody to be values driven? Because I think my intuition is to say that not every human being is values driven. And is that that poses challenges when you're trying to cascade meaning and values and why down to your team? Because cascading It is one thing, getting them to agree that is the right thing is another right and so much of that is are their individual values in alignment with the company's values, right? much.Robert Greiner:
on that though, there. See the thing is here, it's it's not just value it there's hundreds of values at every organization. And so one thing I like about our company is how rigorous of a hiring process we have. And I feel really good about I don't have to do too much research into people who are going to join my team because I already know they've been vetted. I know what the standard are. And I'm not really been disappointed at who I got, even though a lot of times you don't have a choice. I like that I like how a community service driven we are I like how career growth oriented we are, I like that we expect a level of pace out of our people. That's not present in all organizations. And that's okay too, but those kind of there's five or 10 things that I'm opting into as a collection, there's no one thing we do, though, that I'm, that has me so bought in that I'm staying because of that. And so I think there's a, it's more of a, like an articulation of all the set of values that you have as an organization, and that you're, that you're pushing forward to the group of people within the organization. So I think there's a, I don't know if there's a numerical value or like you have to be aligned with 60% of it, or whatever. But I think as long as there's a core set of values that are important to a person, and those values are aligned with a core set of a subset of the organization's values, I think that's probably the right aim.Igor Geyfman:
This price and sort of critical mass of values that are required for, like alignment, but it's not 100%. And I think also, the values have to be coherent with one another. Like you can't have a company that has such a broad set of values, that they're meaningless or even have competing outcomes or interests, becauseCharles Knight:
profit in philanthropy.Igor Geyfman:
Some thingsIgor Geyfman:
you just can't reconcile them. And so that when you're trying to be everything to everybody, I think I think that really falls falls apart to the other thing that you mentioned, he said something like, Hey, I don't think everybody's values based. I don't know if that's true, I do think that everyone is values based, but some people's values may be quite different, maybe some person has the value of maximizing their financial outcomes. And that's expressed through just a sheer need to get the highest possible salary, bonus commission, whatever it is, and, and so they're driven by money. But that's an expression of somebody's values. Still, it may not be the values that that you have, or that you would express. But that is part of their values, which we might just see as some sort of naked mercenary.Charles Knight:
Yeah, I think I agree with you that everybody is values driven. I think though, in many times, people may find it hard to articulate what those values are. Yeah.Robert Greiner:
Or they're misplaced or you think it's one thing, but it's really not, or you haven't, maybe family, for instance, is really high on your list, but you have enough discretionary time to where it and it doesn't there's no tension. And so it doesn't like you don't have to really think about it. Yeah. I think actually understanding what your values are verbalizing them and living them are like, that's a whole journey. Right? Like, it's very hard. And I think they change and evolve over time. I don't think you do. And that's okay.Igor Geyfman:
And I think he dove into some of this in the perma-v season.Charles Knight:
Yeah. Yeah, I think part of the job of the leader when you're cascading, I think when we're talking values, I think you can use consider values purpose, meaning the why we can use those words interchangeably. That's a note to our listeners, right? I think they're all pretty synonymous in this context. And I think, as a leader, we need to cascade those things, as in share them, make sure that they are known. But we also need to, after it's known, help the people on our team understand them, and connect them back to their individual values, purposeCharles Knight:
in their day jobCharles Knight:
in their day job. Exactly. Yeah. And that's where I think that's lost when we just talked about cascading, because it's just this one way thing comes up on high, and then it moves down a level and down level, just like a waterfall. But when it hits the individual, that's where the leader and the team member, you have to go to, you have to go round and round swirled together and figure this stuff out and explore what it means to each person at that point in time. That's like the beauty of leadership. And that's so different than just management. It's I think that's I really like that you're talking about two sides. There's management, leadership, and goals are tied to management and are very important and the vision and purpose and meaning is kind of a function and responsibility of a leaderIgor Geyfman:
is really the right mindset. Charles, this book at some point takes a shot at okrs objectives and key results, like specifically, because if you don't really understand that system, okrs can be perceived as a objective cascading mechanism. But if you have practiced rolling out okrs at your organization, or you read the literature behind, like the mechanics of okrs, which are objectives and key results, you'll know that top down driven okrs are like a recipe for disaster and they're like an anti pattern. For the implementation of okrs, and that the best implementation of okrs are a combination of top down and bottom up, mostly being bottom up. And it's but the power of the okr is the swirl. It's the discussion between the layers, and then negotiation that happens. And the shared understanding that gets created through those conversations. Like that's where the power of the OKR is, it's not in like the specific mechanism of writing an objective and then saying, These are the three key results. And so that's what that swirl also made me think of this, like collaboration and co creation between the manager and their directs. And creating a shared understanding that manager understanding the values and drivers of their directs, that directs understanding the values of their manager and the company and working together to reconcile those together.Robert Greiner:
And you had enough examples of terrible top down factory floor old school management that you could have put in a list, you didn't have to attack everything, because there are more useful organizational, like goals admit the management mechanisms than others? And I think Yeah, lumping them all together shows a little bit of a lack of understanding there. Yeah, if you look at Taylor's sort of practices, or whatever, and you're saying, like, Hey, you have to have an output of n number of widgets using n number of employees. And and then you break down all the tasks into the smallest possible levels, and you modularize them, and whatever. Right, that's, I think that's what this may be a reaction to. But that's, it's not the reality. Yeah, that's knowledge work today, in our line of work. So we're blessed with the sort of Scrum agile revolution, which I think is really great. But there's when a project kicks off, you have a team, you're working stories, and epics and all that kind of stuff. You have everyone in the group checking in every day, you wait in but there's a general understanding that it takes 2-3-4 sprint's to establish a baseline of how much the team can get done. So there's a period of time where it's understood, like, Hey, we actually we don't know how long all this is going to take. But we're going to, we're going to size things as best we can, we're going to work as best we can, we're going to remove blockers as best we can. And then over time, we get a bit of a baseline around what our total velocity is our capacity for work. And then we can start to make informed decisions about how long things take. And then when you see velocity dipping, you can start to ask questions like, Hey, what's standing in your way, I was out, and they didn't have a backup, but this outage happened, Facebook released a new feature that broke our integration, and then we had to fix it. We had the Super Bowl we had to prepare for and you can adjust and start to see these things coming. But over time you you get a sense for you know what's getting done. And that's on like the management side that has, that's all very like practical stuff. You don't have to have, like you get the flexibility and then negotiation as a team over time. You don't have to have everything baked in. So rigid. But that doesn't mean you can you know, throw it all out.Igor Geyfman:
Robert, you want to talk about maybe the levers for meeting those might be interesting, I thought they were useful things to think about. So this is over talking about vision and meeting. And like the leadership side, the book, the chapter really ends on the three levers that are used to help share those things with your team. Do you think it's useful to chat about those? What did you think of those Robert sos like expressed values? rituals? And then stories?Robert Greiner:
Yeah, and again, I think those things are like that's a super valuable thread to pull on. It just should be that should be something that's added in to the mix. Not Yeah, replacing?Igor Geyfman:
That's right. It doesn't replace the whole system, like you can't run your team or your company on expressed values, rituals and stories.Robert Greiner:
Yes. So Express values, ritual stories, let's end on that. Because there is a there's a practical need to level this part up. And I think the book gets this right. Yeah, you want to take the first one,Igor Geyfman:
yeah, expressed values, as described by the book, these are the things that the company talks about, and the things that they write in a mission statements. So things that are very, you know, clearly expressed in like the marketing material, what we talked about, in the first lie, where we talked about people care which company they work for, a lot of the Express values are used in like the marketing of those things. They say what you write on the walls, what you write on the walls, that's it for us, is learn coach give, right? Those are the Express values that that we have. And we write that on everything that goes on the walls that goes on the decks that goes on the annual reports, whatever.Robert Greiner:
And and when someone has a question about why did we as an organization donate money to a charity that helps kids learn how to code there's a very clear tie into the expressed values we have as an organization. If it aligns, and so it's not jarring, you may not agree with it, you may bicker about what charity money was given too. Or you may say, hey, this, these funds at this point in time could have been used more effectively. Those are all valid discussions. But you can never say the company is acting outside of its value system when that donation is made.Igor Geyfman:
Yeah. And I think those things are important, right? It's very easy to look at those things and roll your eyes and say that those things don't don't matter. But it's using the right words, expressing them. But more importantly, living up to the standards that they set are a really important part of this kind of giving things meaning and expressing vision. And for us, it's easy to remember and, and we use learn coach give, for all the interactions, we have the interactions with one another at the company level interactions with our clients, interactions with the community. And so you're part of the important part and an important lever. And maybe this is where a lot of companies stop. They write their missionRobert Greiner:
At least from an intentionality perspective. Yes, absolutely. Yeah, totally agree.Igor Geyfman:
They write their mission statement, they put the three words on the wall, but then you don't really see like a huge amount of expression of those things through action.Robert Greiner:
And that's where the rituals come in.Igor Geyfman:
That is, you want to talk about the rituals.Robert Greiner:
And the book rightly points out, you have rituals, whether they're conscious or unconscious. And the this other thing, rituals, the things you do repeatedly that those activities communicate to your people what is meaningful to you. So I think they talked about the BI weekly, all hands that Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg have at Facebook, which is different than what happens at other organizations. But the it still is a way to cascade meaning because you are doing activities repeatedly that reinforce those values. They talk about bimonthly hackathons at Facebook, you know, we have monthly all hands, and we have our yearly learning event where we take everyone out of client work for a day and do TED talk like presentations. And that's aligned with our values. Again, you can agree or disagree with them. But that is a way to communicate. Even when, you know, times were tough, and we weren't sure what COVID was going to do to the business, we kept our annual learning event. And I that says a lot to the people that work for a company when you're willing to invest that much. And so rituals are very powerful. And again, if you stop at the articulated values, and you don't go into if you're not intentional about the rituals, your culture could get out of hand a little bit take on a bit of a life of its own.Charles Knight:
Yeah, another thing that is clicked for me, as I hear y'all talk about the rituals piece, and even the whatever you put on the walls, those are feedback loops into the system. Like I've been chewing on this, hey, the book takes almost a very reductionist approach to leadership and management as they go, don't do this instead. And there's a, it's a very, let's break it down into the individual components, like a reductionist approach, the opposite of a reductionist approach is a systems approach. So a lot of the feedback loops that I hear y'all talking about the values on the wall, the mission statement that we publish, the all hands meetings, the annual retreats, those are all feedback loops, that are meant to remind teams, leaders, individual contributors, executives, every person in the system, that they are a part of a system, and that they are not only interconnected, like with other elements of the system, they are interdependent onCharles Knight:
other elements in the system,Robert Greiner:
and to give people time and place to engage in activities that are creative to that system. Yeah,Charles Knight:
yeah. Because it's so easy to forget that, as it were, the ego in us is so strong that we only think of ourselves 99% of our lives. It's just us, and not others. So this is a this is connecting on a deeper level for me. SoCharles Knight:
We should have just started there. Yeah, cut the first half of the chapter out. So third level is stories,lever is stories. And I think that's that one's the most self evident, right, like I do.Igor Geyfman:
And the most powerful.Robert Greiner:
Yes, yeah. Those are the things that live across time and space. And we will, in the future, tell stories about how we kept our yearly learning event in the face of COVID. And some uncertainty, some of these things that we're dealing with now and over the past year, will codify into stories which will help me you know, propagate wisdom and good decision making within the organization, things like that. We can talk about how the company was founded. One of my favorite stories is we had a team and Igor, you weren't here at the time, I know you were Charles, because this happened when I joined. And you've been here longer than we had a team at a fairly large organization. There's some funding involved. One of the managers was approached by various senior executives saying, hey, this report that you generated is me, I need to add a zero here. Yeah, yeah. And we said, No, which is good for them. That's a very hard thing to do. When you're putting in a situation like that, in your family's addiction to food, clothing, and shelter is threatened. And so it's not so easy to make the right decision. And I do, like, deeply appreciate the team and the people that in the moment with the uncertainty of what might happen did. And our CEO, send an email to the entire company, outlined some of the situation made it anonymous enough to where there was no dirty laundry being aired, and said, Hey, I support this decision, like y'all made the right decision, we're going to, we're going to do what's right, you'll never get in trouble here for doing what's right. And that was like, a story within a story that I still talk about that where it's like, Hey, I don't have to fear for my job to go do what's right at a client site. And I can give my team's an example of how they can behave the same way that doesn't just come from me, but that came from the very top. And the stories are hyper powerful. That's how we learn. That's how we teach our kids and as humans, most of our growth and development is through stories. And yeah, that's ultra important. And then the better stories you can have as an organization, the better you're going to be at the culture game.Igor Geyfman:
You want to level up as a leader, very few things are better skills to level up in your storytelling. Charles, I think I interrupt you.Charles Knight:
Yeah, no, I was just going to, I was going to explore that with y'all and ask a question. If the book explains what can people do or companies do proactively in that space? Because to me so much of the stories that I remember, and that I propagate, and I look for, because I think that is the job of a leader, as you should look for stories that are worth propagating. And amplifying like in the system. Yeah, like what Bruce,Robert Greiner:
did you know that that was die out over time, though,Charles Knight:
the bad ones die out? Yeah, maybe I think there's still a lot of bad stories that I remember.Robert Greiner:
in effective stories right there. Yes, bad, bad stories that are counter to your values, those tend to stick?Charles Knight:
Yeah, I just wondered so much of it seems organic, or like stories. It's not like you can fabricate a story. Because that gets snuffed out like nothing, it's aRobert Greiner:
but you choose to retell the ones that are aligned with your values, I think is the guidance in the book. And what sort of makes sense to me is there are stories about people at our firm who have been mistreated, who had a bad experience. We're not perfect, nobody is that's not who we are, though, that's a representation of a bad decision or an exception in time. And so I think though, even going back to the stories of failure, a lot of my leadership stories stem from mistakes that I've made, because that also helps me not make them again, and then there's no better way you can, the best way to learn, I think they say is through making bad decisions and experiencing the consequences. If you can be told a story, you might not fall into that same trap, because you can put yourself in that position and say, Oh, yeah, maybe I won't touch that hot stove, or I won't use humor at the expense of my directs. Because that's never worked out for anybody, but those kind of things. And so it can happen at the leadership, like Individual Development level, and then as an organization, you know, helps articulate what you stand for and what you value and where we're going. And then yeah, they grow and build over time. And so I think, telling the good stories, and by good stories, the ones that align with your values also drown out the bad stories as well.Charles Knight:
yeah, I think it's so important as leaders that we model telling stories as a leadership skill. But I also think that there's work to do as a leader to create the conditions for stories to emerge surface. I think that's much harder. Like I don't think modeling alone is enough to to create the conditions for storytelling to become part of the culture, because I remember we we tried at our company to try to gather stories and put them into a repository. Robert, I don't know if you remember that. ButRobert Greiner:
yeah, that's a mechanization of that's not effective, right. Like there is an organic component to it.Charles Knight:
Yeah, yeah. Exactly. Yeah. Like how can you systematically help to propagate, create new and perpetuate storytelling as part of the culture? I think that's a challenge maybe for another, another episode, but that's because you're right. Just think about the stories that have persisted for millennia, right? Like the, you know, books from millennia ago have have survived. Those are stories. Those are the most effective ways to learn, like you said, Robert, and those are and people I think people understand that when it comes to literature, like in history, but I don't know if people think about that in terms of within a company, like a corporation, or human organization. And I think that's part of partly because most companies don't think about being around 100 years, 500 years, 1000 years from now. And, and yet our company does, right, at least our CEO does. That's a story that I, that sticks in my head that he told early on about his vision for the company. And I think I think that's that maybe the difference. And that's maybe why in the corporate world, we don't really talk about stories as a way to propagate values and to communicate meaning and vision in the way that we know it's really powerful to do if you look at history and literature over 1000s of years, we really just hear about it from Ooh, did you hear that it's gossipy. It's like you see in a press release, go out or a news article go out telling a story of like you said, like a mistake or an aberration. It's like, those aren't stories. And that's gossip. And that's not really yeah, that's not really helpful.Robert Greiner:
So this, we're on a good thread here. And I do, I think our qualms with the book will continue. But I do think we should finish out the series, we're going to talk, we end up getting to what I think are like really good discussions. And we we get to the heart of some issues, and I was learning something with y'all, we're going to talk about people being well rounded, giving feedback, performance rating, the potential versus momentum of an individual or a team work life balance, and then leadership in general. So it seems like we should finish the series, but I think maybe tweak it a little bit where we'll read the chapter, we'll talk about it. And let's take what's just like we advocate for people, we're coaching people on our teams, us individually, let's take what's useful and leave the rest. Because there are certainly nuggets in the book that are helpful. There are areas of focus to discuss and get into the meat of that as a valuable use of our time to talk about and we'll just go from there.Igor Geyfman:
Yeah, I agree. And, actually, I think the book, this is the pivot point. Actually, I think the book gets more interesting from here on, like, the topics are a little bit spicier. And to me, I felt that the last two thirds of the book were more interesting than the first third,Robert Greiner:
that makes sense. I think just resetting our expectations, though, and and I'm just excited to talk about these things as a list of things to talk about with y'all can use it as a prompt almost.Igor Geyfman:
The next one is big. It's big for us, because we work for an organization that is very much in favor of people becoming generalists. And line number four is the best people are well rounded. So that is talking about a generalist model. So they're basically saying, being a generalist doesn't make you the best person. So what does I think they actually talk about? The truth for that one is the best people are spiky. And so I think that's a pretty spicy topic for us because it does hit at the heart of of how we develop folks and how we think about consulting and all those other sort of things.Charles Knight:
And I think though, we have uncovered the pattern, I think we start the conversation next time around, not debating one versus the other, but recognize it as a polarity. Let's start the conversation with that. And I think we'll have a much richer discussion.Igor Geyfman:
I love that.Robert Greiner:
Yep. Yep, that sounds great. So the polarity of being a generalist versus being spiky points and counter points that the book offers and what we can come up with on the spot. Sounds great. Hey, it was great seeing y'all. It's been a while since we've recorded.Igor Geyfman:
This is great.Robert Greiner:
Yeah, always feels good to get one done. After a terrible one that will just forget about no technical issues either.Charles Knight:
All good. Yeah.Robert Greiner:
Okay, thanks, guys. That's it for today. Thanks for joining and don't forget to follow us on Twitter @wannagrabcoffee or drop us a line at Hello@wannagrabcoffee.com