COGNIZANCE BREEDS ACCOUNTABILITY
Since selling my company Layline.com in 2006, I have been stacking up Malcom Gladwell’s 10,000+ hours, helping more than 200 organizations large and small, in many fields, build Organizational Cognizance by figuring out who is doing what, with whom, for whom, how, and why? This work led me to the Seven Questions and Seven Promises critical to cultivating culture and engaged team members, detailed in my book, The Patient Organization. (Engaged ICs answer “yes” to these 7 Questions: Do I belong? Do I believe? Am I Accountable? Am I measured well? Am I heard? Am I developed? Do I have balance?). The book you’re reading grew out of that earlier one as I began to focus on the tricky “hinge” question of the Seven, Am I Accountable?
True Accountability goes hand in glove with what I began to think of as “Organizational Cognizance,” a term that crystallized a lifetime of work, starting, running, and, ultimately, coaching companies. I know from experience that people generally want to do a good job. They want Accountability, but organizational life has grown so complex and opaque that they are hazy on their Positions and Purpose, how the many pieces connect, and where they fit. Most organizations don’t offer them true Accountability, and the skeletal old Org Chart doesn’t really help.
What if we could radically clarify Accountability? Imagine an organization where Individual Contributors are truly Cognizant of the Workflows and Processes they touch and the Systems they InterfaceWith. Imagine an organization where every IC fully appreciates why each Meeting he attends is important, how it relates to his Positions and Purpose. Imagine the guy who only knows he must pull Lever Y in order to collect a check, suddenly comprehending how this work impacts the work of colleagues, clients, and the organization as a whole. Imagine an organization where all systems we log into – ERP, HRIS, accounting, manufacturing, quality control, etc. – are fully mapped to Jobs, Positions and Objectives, integrated, with connections clearly spelled out.
An organization with this sort of transparency and clarity creates incredible levels of engagement and belief. What do I mean by belief? As anyone who has worked with me or read The Patient Organization knows, I firmly believe that an organization is a fiction, only given meaning and power by those who believe in it. If you have 200 people and 90 believe the organization means one thing, and 110 believe something else, you have two organizations, not one. You have already been divided and are on your way to being conquered. If some ICs don’t believe at all, the organization suffers. If enough stop believing, it disappears.
|As anyone who has worked with me or read The Patient Organization knows, I firmly believe that an organization is a fiction, only given meaning and power by those who believe in it. If you have 200 people and 90 believe the organization means one thing, and 110 believe something else, you have two organizations, not one. You have already been divided and are on your way to being conquered.|
It’s tough to believe in something – Jesus, Buddha, a country, a company – if you don’t have a true sense of what it is and how you’re connected to it. Belief, at the risk of stating the obvious, demands Cognizance.