Monday, June 5, 2017

5 Steps to Creating
a 21st Century Organization:

Step 1 of 5

 Click Here For Brad's Awesome Previous Article...

Step 1: Flatten Your Hierarchy

To start this 5 part series off right, let's get something clear; this series is based on my own experience of building several start-ups (8 to be exact), from the ground up. One of which I took public on NASDAQ.
Through the years I've learned one thing; the power of any organization is locked deep inside your people. Manage them badly and they leave. Manage them correctly, and they release an unprecedented tsunami of productivity.

Honestly I didn't have much of a choice. I was forced to learn how to manage people because I didn't have unlimited funds to shower them with, expecting them to live up to my standard of expectations. Boomer expectations.

So I learned to be better. I learned about what drives behavior, motivation and loyalty. And in this 5 part series, I am passing the baton of over 30 years of my experiences to you. So let's dig in...

In today’s fast-paced work environment, clinging to your 100 year old hierarchy can be detrimental. "But Brad, that's the way it's been for 70 years...why change now? We can't change things just because Millennials showed up."

Your younger workers aren't the problem. The way Millennials act and behave are a symptom of a much bigger issue; your workforce has been raised differently—trained in business since they were children. I explain it all in my award-winning business book Liquid Leadership.

Those of you still complaining about Millennials may not realize they are acting the way they do in your organization BECAUSE they have been trained already in business. I know, hard to believe,...but if you watch my TEDXTalk, you'll see, video games, new parenting methods and a student-centered curriculum have created someone waiting for you to give the right command.

Simply put, you are not speaking the programming language for a new generation of worker. A generation Baby Boomers raised.   

Here is my Liquid Leadership Generational Behavior Chart.
Click on the image to see the full-sized version.

Liquid Leadership Generational Behavior Chart

Behavior has changed, but in addition, technology has given us the ability to get work done without physical effort anymore. You can work from anywhere as long as there is a WiFi connection, and in some cases, work better.

With all these changes, management models haven't really changed much since the turn of the 20th Century.

So here are two reasons you need to flatten hierarchy: a 21st Century Organization needs to move faster, and age is no longer the criteria for advancement. Skill is.

Let me explain.

Former CEO of Cisco, John Chambers flattened the hierarchy back in the early 2000s. You may remember Cisco Systems being the darling of Wall Street back in the Go Go 90s of the Dot Com Era. 

Suddenly the stock went from $68 per share plunging to $11 in less than 6 months.

The Dot Com implosion destroyed solid companies along with weak companies. The bubble had burst on the dot com era and the baby was getting thrown out with the bathwater so to speak.

Chambers went into action firing thousands of employees and eliminating hundreds of dud products that were no longer profitable. In other words, to save Cisco, he made her lean and mean by trimming the fat.

Chambers also figured out something else, he was the bottleneck that made the company too slow for the up and coming 21st Century. If all decision making in a company HAS to go through the owner, then guess what? That's a company that will not survive very long.

He even said it himself...
“Without exception, all of my biggest mistakes occurred because I moved too slowly.” 

— John Chambers, former CEO of Cisco Systems

John decided to get out of the way and created two autonomous groups within Cisco that made purchasing decisions without him. He created a more democratic organization.

What does all this mean? Why must we flatten today's organizations? By getting rid of the distance between decision-making and implementation, an organization starts eliminating bottlenecks, and moves faster. Frictionless productivity starts becoming a reality and communication happens in real-time.

And since speed is paramount in the 21st Century. This means your people managers need to be trained differently.

Netflix (The online streaming media company a.k.a. TV on the go), seems to have the best grasp of this—training their team managers in team morale and communication has become paramount to their success.
Their controversial hiring and management practices have made the cover story in the Harvard Business Review. Check It Out: Netflix--A Great Place to Work

One of their tactics is to make sure managers are in charge of creating great teams. By visualizing the outcomes they want, and aligning with the skill sets they NEED to accomplish that goal, Netflix team managers waste no time hiring the right people.

Imagine picking only the people you need? That would make you really efficient, right?

I'll talk more about Netflix in Step 5. Until then, see you in Step 2: Creating a 'Truth Telling' Environment.

See you next time...


Brad Szollose
Global Management & Leadership Development Consultant
Author  •  Workshop Facilitator  •  Executive Coach  •  Keynote Speaker

Leadership Lessons from a Web Pioneer.

The Art & Science of
Leading a 21st Century Workforce

Brad Szollose's (pronounced zol-us), is a globally recognized Leadership Development and Management Consultant who helps organizations dominate their industry by tapping into the treasure of a multi-generational workforce. 

He shares his management strategies within the pages of his award-winning, international bestseller Liquid Leadership...strategies that ignited his own company, K2 Design, beginning as a business idea in a coffee shop to a publicly traded company worth $26 Million in just 24 short months with an IPO on NASDAQ.

As a C-Level executive, his unique management model was awarded the Arthur Andersen NY Enterprise Award for Best Practices in Fostering Innovation Amongst Employees (the phrase Workforce Culture did not exist back then).

Today the world’s leading business publications seek out Brad’s insights on Millennials, and he has been featured in Forbes, Inc., The Huffington Post, New York Magazine, Advertising Age, The International Business Times, Le Journal du Dimanche and The Hindu Business Line to name a few, along with television, radio and podcast appearances on CBS and other media outlets.

Since the year 2010, and the release of his award-winning international bestseller, Liquid Leadership, Brad has created customized training programs for The American Management Association, Tony Robbins Business Mastery Graduates and Liquidnet Holdings, as well as several dozen Fortune 500 companies to name just a few; preparing them for the next generation of business leaders.

Mr. Szollose is also a TEDXSpeaker, and his talk The Age of Radical Disruption, focuses on the impact video games and serious gaming has had on the work habits and behavior of Generation X & Millennials.

Brad’s programs have transformed a new generation of business leaders, helping them maximize their corporate culture, creativity, innovation, productivity and sales growth in the new Digital Age economy.

Brad's work will expose the secrets to managing a cross-generational workforce:

Brad is the author of Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia: Cross-Generational Management Strategies That Are Changing The Way We Run Things and the publisher for Journeys to Success: The Millennial Edition: 21 Millennial Authors share their personal journeys of failure and success…based on the success principles of Napoleon Hill.