Saturday, December 20, 2008

strategic management integration workshop

I’m on Gadu-Gadu’s management team and earlier this week I have had the opportunity of attending a strategic management integration workshop training thingy. Gadu-Gadu is the largest Instant Messenger in Poland and is one of the largest IM networks in the world. When I was joining Gadu-Gadu three years ago, there were less than 10 people working here on full time basis whereas now the headcount is somewhat around 200 ? but I lost count already ..Anyway back to the point – the company is growing dynamically. As any growing company it is and will go through phases before finally reaching one of the final stages of growth – the Corporation, something that Gadu-Gadu wants to keep away form for as long as possible. Phases mean evolution and evolution unfortunately needs revolution – one of the aims of the training was to educate us a bit about those evolution and crisis phases and try to minimize the effects of the latter.

Three things stayed in my head after the workshop.

First. Greiner’s model of the evolution and revolution as organizations grow. Many that people are joining on board Gadu-Gadu are coming from large corporations with a long professional experience. Thwy are usually shocked by the completely different culture at the company. Lack of dress-code and flat structure they like, but simple and lightweight procedures, Agile approach to projects, next to none bureaucracy and transparency only seem like an ideal environment at first. Then when it turns out that 10 approvals and 15 signatures are no longer needed to get things done, responsibility is very transparent – things get tricky. They tend to try and produce procedures, documents and approvals. And they put pressure to create procedures and documents to read sign and approve, circulate and approve and sign and read - because that’s how the big companies do it and that’s the way to go if the stakeholders want the organization to grow! ..well it turns out that not really dude. The organization should grow at its own natural pace and should go through any needed phases and should not really try to jump over any. Just like a 12 year old kid will not cope with university level requirements – too much procedures, and organized formal structure and the organization might instead kill its momentum and slow down growth. Let the kid learn himself, dont push him. A bit more about Greiner’s evolution and revolution as organizations grow can be found here.

Second. The Building Blocks Communication Skill Game. It’s unbelievable to see how some people take a simple game too seriously. A top manager on all fours trying to prove that his team's lego structure should win ..damn funny!

Third. The Ball Point Game. I’m a certified Scrum Master and know the tennis ball game from Scrum training. We had the same game here ..except the wind-up is quite different – here the main point was that a clearly stated requirement with defined boundaries mean better results from the team. Well, I like the Scrum wind-up a little more – it says that a clearly defined task with instructions on WHAT and not HOW will make the team organize and optimize itself to reach best possible results. More on the Ball Point Game here.

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