April 28, 2014
Before Twitter, there was Odeo. Odeo wanted to provide podcasting services, until Apple jumped into the podcasting game and gave the team behind the service a huge headache. Unsure exactly what to do, Odeo realized a pivot was essential for their survival.
They worked together, splitting off into groups, building a culture of transparency, and even hosting hackathons to find a new direction — and Twitter was born. The 140-character status update platform started from a moment of panic but has become a household name even for those who aren’t “in-the-know” about tech. On the other hand, companies that avoid regularly reinventing themselves in high-tech are often left behind in the dust.
You don’t want your company to end up a relic of a bygone era, but perhaps you’ve gotten a little too large to pivot on a dime. You may not even know how many people you have at your disposal or what they are even working on anymore. As your company grows, and fails to utilize on the services available to help them innovate, they begin to face more challenges with regard to agility and transparency, both of which are key elements to a successful pivot. Above all else, business transparency is of paramount importance to adapt quickly, move fast, and ensure your people are not texting in a buggy with a bullwhip in one hand and qwerty keyboard in the other.
Here are some ways to increase your corporate transparency, get your best people aligned, and never miss an opportunity to pivot with the times:
Get the Lean Edge By Improving Communication
Life at a lean startup might be difficult in many ways, but startups have one essential edge over big businesses: the ability to direct their resources toward large concerns and address them quickly. Why? As smaller organizations, startups can listen to all workers and consider every innovative idea put forth. For big businesses, the same corporate hierarchy that keeps your organization running smoothly can also be what keeps you from seeing your people’s best ideas.
Communication needs to flow smoothly from all sections of the org chart if you truly want to address concerns and solve problems before they snowball. According to the “How Leaders Grow Today” survey run by ClearCompany and Dale Carnegie, less than 6 percent of companies communicate goals on a daily basis. By getting your large-scale and long-term goals out in front of your whole workforce, you can be sure everyone is working toward the same objectives.
Focusing on goals cuts down on miscommunication, meaning you can focus on the specifics instead of constantly reinforcing the big picture. This can help you foster open communication, encourage innovations, and hear every great idea.
When asked what was holding their company back, 50 percent of those surveyed by Fierce, Inc. named a lack of organizational transparency. Companies without transparency are hard to pivot because everyone isn’t working toward the same goals and moving in the same direction. If decision maker at Odeo had needed to wade through layers of murky corporate hierarchy, the company could have never transformed into Twitter.
You need to increase transparency so you can see and understand the problem areas within your organization, as well as the great ideas to move your company forward. The best way to achieve transparency is to get everyone on your team, from top-level CEO to entry-level talent, looking at the same big picture. This means aligning your talent with goals and keeping those goals in sight.
Make your large-scale goals part of your internal company messaging. Adopt an open door policy when it comes to suggestions, innovative ideas, and problem-solving solutions. Make sure your team understands how their work contributes to your goals. Increasing transparency is the best way to see where your company is going and steer your company ship away from the rocks and to the promised land.
Track in Real-Time
Less than one-third of employees from the Fierce, Inc. survey felt managers were willing to make adjustments based off their feedback. What if other famous companies hadn’t listened to employees and just continued on their way? There would have been no hackathons at Odeo, and it would have never transformed into the microblogging service we know today.
Electronically tracking your team’s progress toward goals can help your best people take ownership of their work. The ability to see your employees in action and make real-time adjustments can also mean stopping a problem in its tracks.
With real-time tracking, you can focus on fixing problems before they become worse, changing direction on projects that aren’t working and pinpointing where certain team members need more help. Real-time tracking makes your company more lean and agile, meaning you can listen to the feedback from your best people and pivot when issues arise.
New technology is changing every industry rapidly in ways we would have never dreamed before. You never know what the future for your industry will bring, which makes the ability to pivot essential for every organization. By focusing on goals, opening communication, and adjusting in real-time your company can become more transparent, so you’re ready for whatever the future brings.
Guest author Andre Lavoie is the CEO of ClearCompany, the first talent alignment platform that bridges the gap between talent management and business strategy by contextualizing employees’ work around a company’s vision and goals. You can connect with him and the ClearCompany team on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
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