Passion Driven Work – Secret Sauce of Generating Exponential Value in a Company

This is a story of a small IT service company in India with a capacity of 80-100 people.I worked there in senior leadership role. The key USP of the company was its focus on technology innovation, thought-leadership, have great technology talents and flat hierarchy. It was an IT service company and was implementing XP, Scrum, CI/CD, Distributed Agile practices since 2006 to its core.

The company environment was very open. Employees were encouraged to consider organisation like a clean slate. They could write on it whatever they want as long as it brings improvement in status quo and a group of colleagues are convinced about the idea.

If anybody felt uncomfortable the way things are working in the organization, she could initiate a discussion in the company around the change and if idea makes sense, it gets implemented.

Considering all mentioned above, it was not a surprise anymore to see a big focus on the following mantra in the company.

Scratch your own itch. If it’s itching you hard, fix it.

Essentially people were encouraged to come up with solutions and actions to execute, instead of just listing problems. Everybody in the company was considered an equal partner in improving things.

The result was – anybody could start any initiative, which he/she thinks to be beneficial for the organization. Senior management helped in shaping up the ideas. However people themselves had to sell their ideas to fellow colleagues and garner support.

To provide some impetus and catalyst to these cultural changes, we started promoting some activities like writing blogs, creating videos on our technical expertise, groups on Software technology design aspects, participating as speakers in various technical conferences, exploring new technologies and then doing sessions for the entire company.

Initially everything worked as expected. However after few months or so, to my surprise, steam began to die down. Many people backed out when it came to do some work, though they expressed their keen interest initially.

Another important fact was – only few selected people were participating in most of the activities. Just 5-10 out of 70-80 people was not an encouraging number. Again this is what I saw in many other organizations.

Rest of the story is about the turn-around of the company when we started aligning people's passions and interests towards the long-term organizational goals. After some time we started getting sustainable and dramatic results.

At one point, people writing on corporate technical blog were around 5–10% of total number of people. That changed to around 50–60% people in the organization.

Initially that happened because of the interest shown by truly interested people about it and then because of healthy competition among the colleagues.

We started finding the involvement of people in various activities like hiring improvement initiative, building technology guilds, multimedia and marketing, software design competition, organizing events, innovation and speaking in conferences.

This whole system evolved in a well-oiled engine which was ready to take any technological challenge from any client. It obviously improved employee morale. With the word of mouth and good feedback, we started getting great employee references.

 
 

Outline/Structure of the Case Study

* Introducing cast of characters

-- A company of 80-100 people, flat hierarchy, XP culture, empowerment as the focus of company culture

* History that set the stage for this story

-- How different was the company culture from rest of the companies

* What happened? How did you get here?

-- Introduction of various technical learning and cultural initiatives to make company an authority in technical space. Expecting partnership of colleagues in the initiative

-- Total failure of the initiatives

* What went wrong?

-- Self-empowerment vs company-led initiatives

-- A casual talk with one of the colleagues and his response to listen to what people want to say or say vs what leadership wants them to say

-- Open ended conversation focused to know people and their passion

-- Evolution of passion driven work and corresponding driven initiatives

* Resolution and outcome

-- Evolution of a well-oiled engine which was ready to take any technological challenge from any client.

-- 50-60% people involved in various initiatives focused around their passion and resultant power available to the organization

Learning Outcome

* What happens when you bring empowerment and flat hierarchy in an organization culture

* Introduction to the concept of "Passion Driven Work" and what it means

* The cultural evolution around passion driven work and its on the company's outcome

* What worked, what didn't in the journey

Target Audience

Leaders, Managers, CxO

Prerequisites for Attendees

None

schedule Submitted 2 years ago

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