as published in Conway Daily Sun
The E-Myth may have a flaw. In our last article, we discussed the critical need for systems. According to Michael Gerber, author of the famous E-Myth - Why Small Businesses Fail and What to Do About it, we should organize our business around functions, not people. Systems run our business and we hire people to run the systems. I would argue a bit with my long-time hero. Time has proven that the battle between systems and people is not quite so simple.
The book is brilliant no doubt, and if you are starting out and you are the technician (the person who does the technical work of your business), then it is probably very helpful to you. At some point in your growth, you will outgrow this basic concept and awaken to a new set of challenges. The faster you get to these sometimes-frightening new challenges the better, so long as you are prepared to face them.
When you have a simple business, with simple processes, it is relatively simple to hire people, train them a bit and try to manage them into compliance. I hope you heard the phrase "We manage things, we lead people". What is the difference? No matter how simple your system is, the people you invite to run them are complex. People are always going to be complex. If your industry, your business or your systems are also complex, I would venture to guess that you are facing rapid changes and complex problems as well. Add this to the complexity and unpredictable nature of people and we have all the makings of a stressed out, frustrating unpredictable work environment, where trust and communications rapidly deteriorate. Low trust slows everything down and increases costs. High trust speeds up processes and reduces costs. Clear and open communications are required to accomplish any mission, let alone on time and within budget. So how do we mesh the need for systems, with the need to embrace the experience and wisdom of people? How do we get the buy-in and commitment of people? How do we invite others to share in our leadership so we can handle complex challenges and rapid change and all thrive as a team? How do I get my ego and old habits out of the way?
I just finished another week sharing a room with Jack Canfield, America's #1 Success Coach and about sixty other highly successful transformational leaders and students. As we study the latest thinking on personal and business success, the classic success principles still have the most power. A consistent theme is that the need to complicate that which is simple and the tendency to simplify that which is complex arises out of personal self-limiting beliefs, old paradigms and fear. Perhaps we are afraid that if we need to rely on our staff for real input, we will look weak, or that
the staff won't be smart enough, or talented enough to be of any real help and besides, it is faster to figure out the problems myself.
So most managers, make decisions, print out the memos then call a meeting to discuss the issue. At the meeting, they ask for input and questions, then defend their own decisions and snuff out any input anyway, as they hand out the documents they prepared before they even asked for input. Is it any wonder staff is not engaged? There is a better way, but it is not for everyone. This week, I joined a Mastermind group of wildly successful professionals from across the country, from a variety of industries. I was very pleasantly surprised to learn their process of facilitating meetings, was super-efficient, laser-focused, and highly productive. The process, followed by many of the most successful people and groups in the world, mimics the techniques we teach in Circle Process. Even with a wide variety of backgrounds and personality types, the process works well for everyone involved because of our dedication to the goal and our commitment to support one another. The same process is widely used in a variety of forms to resolve issues between perpetrators and victims of crimes, with fighting families, community organizations, and work
Circle creates a safe space for anyone to speak the truth, for anyone to take responsibility, and to lead on any given idea. The formal leader no longer has to have the best answer, but rather benefits from the collective intelligence and life experience of the entire team, who actually starts to act like a team, whose success is not singularly dependent on having a superstar team-leader. Warning: Your super-start team leader’s ego may benefit from their current position. They may resist new paradigms of sharing leadership and developing team members around them. Also, those who do not trust other team members or management will need to build some trust, which the system provides over time.
My recent studies and practice of the process continues to confirm that variations on Circle might be the most effective tool for creating collaborative environments of high trust, solid communication and shared responsibility. Some groups simply do not have enough motivation to go through the hard work of using a totally new system for
creating a culture of trust and communication. Circle also requires the total support and buy-in from top management, who must be confident enough and willing to be vulnerable with their staff.
Many of the best success stories for Circle come from the non -profit, government, legal and healthcare sectors.
However, many of the wealthiest and most successful business people in the world belong to Mastermind groups, which follow the same principles.
Your organization needs more than systems to run the technical work of the business. Successful organizations need
a people system, a communication system and a system for creating and improving more systems. Circle process is a system for engaging the wisdom of all the people to collaboratively share the leadership load along with the heavy burden of continuous problem solving.
On July 11th, I will be co-facilitating a free half-day training program to teach an introduction to Circle Process. While we promoted this event to non-profit first, you do not need to be a non-profit. It will be at the White Mountain Hotel from 8am-noon, and pre-registration and a $10 fee to cover the cost of a breakfast break is required. Visit www.klineseminars.com to register or learn more.