The Most Important Principle of a Healthy Organization

SeePeopleAsPeople

If you work with people in an organization, you are under this principle.

Healthy organizations see people as people. 

Unhealthy organizations…

…see people has roles, rather than people.
…emphasize titles rather than character.
…see head counts as numbers instead of lives that have hopes and dreams.
…have leaders that walk the halls out of duty rather than genuine care.
…define people by what they do rather than who they are.
…use responsibilities to label people rather than using responsibilities to grow them.
…have leaders that sacrifice the lowest positions instead of sacrificing themselves first.

Behind every person is a story. It’s a story that shaped who they are today. Not knowing their story is the easiest sign of that you don’t see people as people. 

If you’re a leader, it starts with you. Don’t look people in the eye and pretend you care about them, but have the inner resolve to genuinely see people as people.

The Agile Worker

In 1959, Peter Drucker coined the term “knowledge worker” which referred to an emerging form of work for the next generation workforce. Knowledge workers is a broad term, but it basically characterized by a worker’s deep knowledge in focused topics and their ability to utilize that knowledge to provide services. The rise of the knowledge worker produced massive consulting companies, legions of financial analysis, and further segmentation of professional medicine, law, and sciences. While knowledge workers are certainly here to stay, I believe another form of work is on the rise. I call it the “Agile Worker”. With the advancement of web technology and the continuing expansion of the internet, knowledge is becoming more of a commodity. You can see the rise of cost effective or free online education, such as the Khan Academy, edX, Lynda, and Codecademy, as a foreshadow of the widespread accessibility of deep knowledge. In the future, knowledge will not be used as leverage to drive demand. Rather, the commoditization of knowledge will empower the Agile Worker .

Some of the idea of the Agile Worker adopts key concepts from the Agile Software Development, such as the ability to quickly adapt to changes, but further applied beyond software development.

The Agile Worker is characterized by their ability to:

  • quickly adapt to change
  • sufficiently acquire new knowledge or skills
  • harmonize diverse knowledge and people

An Agile Worker is a person who is able to quickly adapt to change by sufficiently acquiring new knowledge and harmonizing it with other information and people.

An Agile Worker is able to:

  • be resourceful and learn to the level required to meet the current demand.
  • effective worth with groups of people and skillfully combine shared knowledge.
  • apply a high technical aptitude with unrelated creativity and expression.
  • quickly learn new skills to a sufficient of proficiency (such as languages, programming, finance, and design).
  • acquire a breadth of diverse knowledge enough to be able to effectively teach others.

Current examples of Agile Workers include Tim Ferriss, Elon MuskAshton Kutcher, Peter Thiel, and countless others.

Who else would you consider an Agile Worker?

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3 Parts of an Effective Job Description

Most job descriptions focus on the tasks that the employee is expected to complete, but the most effective job descriptions focus on what I call “outcome ownership”. When an employee clear on the outcomes they are responsible for, they will be able to focus on designing the process and determining the tasks that are required to attain the desired outcomes. Effective job descriptions focus on outcome ownership, rather than tasks.

A job description that focuses on outcome ownership answer these three questions:

  1. What outcome(s) is the employee responsible for?
  2. What authority does the employee have to attain those outcomes?
  3. How will the employee be kept accountable for those outcomes?

What outcome(s) is the employee responsible for?

Rather than describing the series tasks that the employee is supposed to do, focus on describing the outcome that is supposed to be achieved through the tasks. It is important to specify outcomes that can be measured.

What authority does the employee have to attain those outcomes?

Next, be clear on the kind of decisions that the employee has the authority to make. The employee has to have a control over the things that may have influence of the outcome they are responsible for.

How will the employee be kept accountable for those outcomes?

Finally, the employee needs to clearly know how the outcome he is responsible for will be measured. Whether it’s production numbers, timelines, or website analytics, or Net Promotor Scores, the employee must be clear on how they will be kept accountable for the outcomes they are responsible for.

Check out these example job descriptions.