An Everyone Culture

In An Everyone Culture the authors Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey explore Deliberately Developmental Organizations (DDOs).

In these organizations adult development is part of the core business model: they don't invest into the personal development of their employees because they must but because they believe that there is a fundamental different concept of the employee: they are part of the organization with all their warts. The idea is: in many organizations a lot of effort is invested into appearing to be perfect or flawless, to cover up ones insecurities and to cover for others insecurities ("I let you get through with this because you will do the same for me on another occasion"). The authors call this having a second, unpaid job. How organizations where able to eliminite this second, unpaid job by bringing your full self to work in order to work on your shortcomings on company time is explained with a lot of real-life examples.

You get to look inside three organizations from completely different industries: movie-theaters / real estate, hedge fund managament, and IT. You get to experience working in such an environment basically from a first person view and are taken directly into real situations. All have one astounding similarity in common: these organizations have created a safe environment to be yourself and be open about your problems. They go even so far to make them publically available for everyone in the organization to look up. And this is the crucial part: creating a nurturing and helpful environment is not easy to build, and it changes the understanding of what being at work means so radically, that it does not fit everybody. Constantly working on yourself, personally and professionally, is nothing everybody is able to do. But the results are fascinating; they are only postive in this book, though.

The second important concept in the book is the removal of professional seniority. The idea that one can keep working in your job basically forever is discarded. Which makes perfectly sense today because of two things: no job role will be there forever and not change, things you've learned two years ago are soon outdated. But more important the longer you do a job the less creative and open you are for new and better ideas and change. In DDOs, as soon as you master your current role you are rotated to a coaching role for this position and after that assigned to a new role where you start over as a newbie. And this is true for every job in those organizations not only for those employees that want to work like this anyway. This creates a constant influx of new ideas in all parts of the organization and enabled the three examples in the book to become respected industry leaders.

I've taken away a lot of new ideas about how organizations can be run, and learned how attractive personal development in the context of your organization can be and that the benefits are bigger then I would have estimated.

This book is also a great example for the saying "Culture eats strategy for breakfast": no strategy can deal with crisis like a team where everybody knows everyones shortcomings and how to work with them.

Highly recommended!