We enter a vastly new era of enterprise. Many of the rules that guided business organization and operation in the past are no longer relevant as guiding principles. Most organization were formerly organized around time (as in 9-5, M-F), place (as in corporate vs. field), power (as in size, resources, secrets), and organization (as in boss, top management, front line). What happens when all these guiding principles are completely obsolete or totally reframed? It calls for new rules of engagement.
The difference between the old and the new reminds us of the familiar Road Runner versus Wile E. Coyote cartoon characters. Watch a few Road Runner cartoons while thinking about your team or organization. You will discover the Road Runner is as different from Wile E. as the old paradigm of business is different from the new. Here are a few of the differences we noticed.
Wile E. Coyote is earnest; the Road Runner is passionate
Wile E. Coyote relies on a sole source supplier; the Road Runner relies on no one, and everyone#depending on need
Wile E. Coyote relies on instructions; the Road Runner relies on ingenuity
Wile E. Coyote never learns from his mistakes; the Road Runner never stop learning-on-the-run
Wile E. Coyote uses myopia and greed; the Road Runner uses "big picture" vision and win-win values
Wile E. Coyote follows procedure; the Road Runner experiments
Wile E. Coyote is resilient; the Road Runner is resourceful
Wile E. Coyote is shrewd; the Road Runner is wise
Wile E. Coyote looks back; the Road Runner looks ahead
Wile E. Coyote is always grim; the Road Runner is always joyful.
Can you see the implications of these differences? It is not that Wile E. is without merit. We admire his endurance and tenacity. But, which character would you bet the farm on? Which character is the best model for successful teams and organizations of the future? We have crafted seven new rules of the road grounded in Road Runner thinking.
Everyone is a full player. Winning organizations use open-book management, and make sure every employee, supplier and partner is connected, wired, in the know and trained to think like owners. These organizations do away with rank and pecking orders. They borrow (rather than own) the best talent from around the world.
All boundaries are permeable. Winning organizations allow information, resources and people to flow freely. They strip away the walls to create a smaller, faster body and a bigger, more innovative brain. They encourage employees to be boundary hunters. They think in terms of wholes, webs, networks and multi-everything.
Mastery is the magic. Winning organizations create a curious enterprise. They seek to become the fastest learners in their industry. They value wonder, vitality and boldness. They seek interesting mistakes and share wonderful errors. They apply learning continuously and encourage leaders to be sponge growers.
Honorable cultures are powerful. A power-full work environment is one from which people draw strength and focus from a clear vision and obvious values. They continually raise the bar on their expectations of ethics. They eliminate drag by maintaining full-time, beak-to-tail integrity.
All enterprise is virtual. Winning organizations accept that nothing lasts, nothing is static, and nothing stays put. They know all business is fashion; all products experiments. They challenge anything that is fixed and everything that bogs them down or unnecessarily ties them to allegiance#to place, policy, asset or tradition.
Breakthrough is the road to prosperity. Winning organizations race on the lunatic fringe. They work to be first, be exceptional, and be unique. They go in a different direction from the masses. They challenge processes and break rules. They know incrementalism is a path to extinction. Winners are bold mavericks willing to redefine the game.
The last word is laughter. Winning organizations see the connections between smiles and discipline, laughs and focus, giggles and results, hee-haws and high performance. They continually battle the corporate diseases of grimness, intimidation, secrecy and anxiety. They view giggling as a strategic priority#and they laugh all the way to the bank!
If the Road Runner embodies the characteristics of the winning organization of the future, and the new rules replace the old ways, is your team or organization a roadrunner or a coyote? Take the test below to find out.
Do you frequently invite (internal and external) customers and vendors to attend your staff meetings?
Are all employees and associates encouraged to partner and problem solve with any one, anytime, at any level and anywhere in the organization to accomplish results?
Are employees encouraged to make interesting mistakes and fascinating errors?
Have you ever deceived an employee, customer, supplier, or partner?
If your customers and associates gave you a grade on how much you helped them learn and grow, what grade would you get?
How would you fare if all your products and services became completely obsolete every six months?
Would your internal and external customers describe your unit, team or organization with words like "zany," "wild," "almost out of control," "provocative," "crazy," or "loose cannons?"
Do you invite unusual people#magicians, inventors, philosophers, and artists#to present to your unit, team or organization?
Are you regularly searching for ways to make your associates, employees, customers and suppliers giggle a lot?
If your children observed your actions at work (assume you have children if you do not), what conclusions would they draw about your character?
The Road Runner streaks away into the sunset, leaving behind a vanquished coyote with a look of exasperation and exhaustion. Road Runner...1, Wile E. Coyote...0. "Beep-beep!"
We laugh at the inevitable outcome. The Road Runner is the epitome of confidence#power at warp speed. He doesn't just escape; escape implies the threat of capture, and the Road Runner never seems seriously concerned. He emerges...victorious, again. The cartoon metaphor contains powerful lessons relevant for enterprises seeking marketplace victories.
We live in an era where time, place, secrecy, size, and order are no longer relevant...where customers expect personalized outcomes delivered by passionate, agile, and responsive employees...where spirited, on-the-run learners outpace "just-follow-the-Acme-instructions" domesticated workers. We live in a time when roadrunners rule and coyotes...crash!
Coyotes are earnest; roadrunners are passionate. Coyotes are resilient; roadrunners are resourceful. Coyotes look over their shoulders; roadrunners look ahead. Coyotes are procedural; roadrunners are experimental. Coyotes operate from what they want; roadrunners from who they are. Coyotes are grim; roadrunners are jubilant. Is your team or organization a Wile E. Coyote or a roadrunner? Are you a coyote leader or a roadrunner leader?
Roadrunner leaders create cultures in which everyone is a full player. They include employees and customers in dramatic and novel ways. They eliminate pecking order...since "rank" to them means something with an odor, not something to be saluted! They help everyone think and act like an owner. Secrets are banned; myths are bashed and rumors are squashed.
Since enterprise is now virtual, roadrunner leaders pursue value-added alliances and nurture diverse partnerships that can expand their resources and increase their response time. They strip away bulgy corporate staffs and get rid of all weight that keeps their unit or organization slow, bolted down and utterly vanilla in their responses. They eliminate anything and everything that contributes to drag.
Because they know that mastery is the magic, roadrunner leaders act as mentors, not meddlers...they partner instead of parent. They turn every mistake into a lesson; every miscue into an instruction for improvement. Because they think BIG...beyond conventional wisdom...they inspire their associates to change the rules of their industry. They invite out-of-the-ordinary people from diverse disciplines to address their team. They treasure demanding and complaining customers as potential sources for wisdom. They create electronic knowledge networks, promote peer coaching and encourage community service.
Roadrunner leaders know that enthusiastic employees come from passionate, high-integrity, joy-filled cultures and they model the attributes that create such a setting. They encourage honest, candid dialogue. They get rid of hyper-legalistic, self-protective, arm's length pseudo partnerships. Since breakthrough is the road to prosperity, they go for the lunatic fringe, the quirky approach and the audacious solution. They know they are on the right road, if their competitors label them as crazy, their customers see them as out of the box, and their associates defend them as revolutionary! Beep-beep!