From a distance, self-management is like a beautiful mountain, standing out of the traditional organizational landscape. Its shining summit in the morning sun, its slopes glowing in the peaceful snow seem the perfect incarnation of harmony. You just want to be at that top, looking at the world around, breathing the pure and feeling “invigorated” by the high altitude air.
But like many mountain treks, getting your company there can be a long and hard journey. A voyage worth taking that you too can take and plan for.
To ensure its success, you need to carefully prepare your company-body for the ascent.
Your company must exercise regularly to stay fit and agile. This includes:
At all levels of your company-body, get rid of the “responsibility-heavy fat”. Rid yourself of those useless pounds, leading you to a healthier weight. This includes:
To make sure you are in the right mental state to start your ascent, mental training is key. It means:
You can try it alone, but that way is dangerous, and having external guidance might be your best chance of success. Select someone that knows the processes and its pitfalls well, and who can point out dangers or reassure you that you are on the right track. Someone who can guide and support you, offering an external and global perspective, such as an Harmonist.
You also need to ensure you have strong support around you to help you carry the load and key responsibilities of this transformation; that can support you in times of doubt and stress along the way.
Make sure you have as few items as possible, but those must be with you at all times:
In any major climb or ascent, there are steps you need to follow, else you will be out of breath and energy. Your body must get back its internal stability before you can move higher up in the mountain.
Same with self-management: you need to go through stages, and let your company find back its harmony before moving to the next. If we follow the Reinventing Organizations/ Spiral Dynamics rule, you must first assess where you are starting from in terms of stages. A Harmonist can help you discover where your energy is currently directed.
No need to rush, aim for an even and sustainable pace in the best way to both walk up a mountain or move your organization forward. There are thousands of different tracks. Take your time to select those that best fit your culture and pace of change.
Examples of tracks you can take to set yourself up for progress and success:
Limited experimentations: Start with small and time-bound experiments, such as pilot teams self-organizing, Open Space events, internal hackathons etc. tied to real issues and opportunities in the business.
Physical change: reorganize office space, with non-assigned (or highly personalizes) desks, maintain closed rooms only for meetings or quiet time, creative rooms
Feedback loops: communicate your project to the entire company, get feedback and ideas from a wide range of people and trust them to implement and test them for 3 months, gather and discuss feedback and start another loop.
Be forewarned, the self-management path is not a walk in the park. Nature, if unprepared, can catch you off guard with many dangers lurking that can stop you in your track:
Going through all those stages and bringing your company to the top requires mental strength.
You need to be patient, as change does not happen overnight. You need to stumble and fall many time before you know how to walk. Sometimes the weather is not good and you need to stay longer at a base camp. Until harmony is shining back in your company and you are ready to move on.
You need to open your mind, accept that there are many things you cannot control, and many more that you can influence if you are in the right mindset. You will feel relieved. Be authentic. Trust your instinct and listen to your heart.
You need courage. Some slopes will be harder than others. It will be tempting to turn back to your base camp. You will often be on the edge of the next ledge. This is not comfortable. Look up and forward, be brave, and your company-body will keep its balance. Look down at how far you have climbed and use that as fuel to continue.
And you can now picture yourself at the top of this mountain. The sun is rising and the sound of silence plays its unique melody. The natural beauty surrounding you fills you with joy and pride. You have made it to the top. This moment of perfect harmony is the first day of a new life for your company.
You take a deep breath, and then dive into the immensity of this new world. It took a leap of faith, lots of preparation and learning along the way and now you know that you are ready to conquer more mountains. You know what it takes, you did it with others. What an incredible future ahead.