After 2.5 years with Happy Melly and tens of pitches, I can describe Happy Melly and its advantages in a snap. People quickly understand the general concept, but the devil lies in the details. The mechanics of collaboration in the network makes them uneasy, as it’s very different than what they’re used to. To operate effectively in a networked structure, many of us have to make an internal switch to a new system of coordinates. It’s not easy!
I observed and kept observing tendencies — in my own behaviour, and in the behaviours of other team members — to use old, cozy command-and-control ways of thinking from time to time. That old thinking was one of the reasons why Happy Melly struggled to evolve during its first year.
However, it found its way forward after several smaller and bigger pivots. And it stayed truly networked. We need to thank Jurgen, Vasco and several other members of Happy Melly who really wanted to grow the network — not an easy-to-understand hierarchy — and who kept experimenting, no matter how many times they failed.
I experienced the same thing when I spoke with to leaders at organisations that care about employees’ happiness and engagement. For them, it all starts with asking, “Why?”
Mikko and Pekka from Vincit wanted to create “a company where even Mondays don’t suck.” Mikko says in an interview, “We started from the vision even Mondays don’t suck. Even Mondays are great to come to work. We didn’t know what we were going to do, we had no business idea. Only that it should be something about software.”
Erik Ringertz from Netlight wanted “to build a consulting company which was anti-individualistic.” “The idea was that a heterogeneous enterprise with employees working together and daring to take initiative is more creative,” he says. “Because it gives customers better solutions, it is also viable. “
David Cummins from Ministry said: “The important thing about making decisions is experience and knowledge, which are required to make a good decision. A person who has them is in many cases not a manager. I don’t even see it as giving away power. I see it as ‘it makes sense.’”
Networked organisations that care about employees and trust them to operate autonomously are much more suited to the modern business environment. They are very adaptable. It’s easier for them to attract and keep the best talent. However, it’s not possible to grow an organisation using only logical calculations. Leaders have to believe.
They should believe because the path to creating a networked organisation is a thorny one. There will be no cookbook. They’ll be surrounded by sceptics. Their trust in people will be challenged more than once. They will be faced with numerous situations where it’s easier to order than to stay silent and wait.
Leaders should believe.
Do you believe in trust, autonomy and engagement at work? Do your leaders believe in organisations where people enjoy coming to work on Mondays?