In most companies people are doing a second job, next to their main job: hiding their weaknesses. For innovation and transformation we need to develop ourselves, our company culture and work practices radically. Next Jump, a very successful e-commerce company, teaches us some important lessons. Since communication, openness and reflection are the keys to success, women – with their in general higher right-brain development – can strongly benefit from this evolution.
Leon Bedaux, director of IT at KPN mentioned it already on ‘CIAO in one day’ on 31 October 2017: How difficult it is for people and systems to change. He has been leading the digital transformation and has noticed a lot of resistance. Managers behaving as ‘a corporate police’ focusing on control, security and blame and shame, in stead of creating a place to grow.
Next Jump is completely aware of ‘this immunity of change’. The company is one of the strongest environments for change, according to Robert Kegan. He is a Harvard professor who has been studying Deliberately Developmental Organizations (DDO) and is author of the popular book An everyone culture.
Improving your back hand
The underlying assumption of Next Jump is: a better me + a better you = a better us. Lots of time and effort are invested in self development: knowing and practicing your ‘back hand’. This means that everyone in the company is aware of your ‘weaknesses’ and plays a role in supporting your development. Even the amount of your salary reflects the care you show for others. By determining the total amount, 50% is based on your contribution to the profits of the company and 50% to the companies culture.
Next Jump has tools like a mobile app for continuous feedback during meetings: thumb up, thumb down and comments. They follow the model of the ‘Follow Leader Organisation’ (FLO), which means that your role in a project team changes very fast. For instance, as soon as you have some experience with the task of captain (who leads the project), your role turns from captain to coach (helping the next person in line to get the job done).
More radical than Agile
The mindset and daily work practices of people working at a DDO are even more radical than ‘being Agile’. Kegan talks of the height, depth and breadth of becoming the best version of yourself as a person and company. So in height, continuously working on the edge of your personal development and leaving your mask at home. In depth is it about continuously creating a safe home, a company culture focused on trial and error and grow. In breadth it’s about its developmental practices called ‘groove’ (for everyone, all the time, integrated in daily work).
Although Agile is also about continuously growing and has practices as daily stand-up meetings and integrated feedback loops, a DDO injects extra developmental nutrients to become a great place to grow.
Walk the talk
How to become a transformative organization? Just start, is the advice of Kegan. And realize that it is difficult. It’s a step by step process. Invest a lot a time in creating a safe home. And key to success is the commitment of the CEO. If the leader walks the talk and becomes an active participant, the whole company will thrive. Personal and business development will take place and this in itself will be the transformation with exceptional business success.