Building an Agile 21st Century Organization
“I've never been in an organization that communicated too much.”
– General Stanley McChrystal
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In Wednesday’s keynote speech, retired General Stanley McChrystal drew from his experience as commander of the Joint Special Operations Command to demonstrate why organizations that wish to succeed in our complex modern world must be agile, adaptable and able to respond in a crisis. Some takeaways the four-star general shared with Hightower advisors:
Rethink your policies and processes
Most organizations have a long list of rules and regulations they deem necessary for running a functioning business. While some of these regulations truly are essential, General McChrystal noted that having too many rigid policies in place can actually hinder a company’s ability to competently react to new situations. As example, General McChrystal pointed conference attendees to the 2017 viral video of a passenger being physically pulled off a United Airlines flight after his seat was double booked.
“The response from United was a statement that said, essentially, ‘Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this,’” said General McChrystal.
“What they said was objectively true, and therein lies the problem: The people who wrote these procedures didn’t write them considering this specific situation. You can’t expect a rules-based approach to apply to every possible scenario.”
Embrace radical transparency
“I’ve never been in an organization that’s communicated too much,”
said General McChrystal.
“If people are constantly aware of what’s going on with clear and accurate communication, they are going to be a lot more effective.”
Sharing information on a “need to know” basis makes sense in some situations, but General McChrystal believes that keeping all employees up on high-level activities on can help to build a more engaged workforce. After all, it can be difficult for lower-level employees to feel motivated by their work when the company is keeping essential information about the firm’s overall goals and direction from them.