I was delighted to be invited to present at October’s meetup of ProductTank at Google Campus to share my experiences on what drives individuals, teams, and collaboration in successful product development organizations.
ProductTank London is the original meetup for Product Managers throughout the city, and with over 1,100 members and 150+ attending every event. I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Dharmesh Raithatha, Senior Product Manager at Mind Candy and Will McInnes, Managing Director at NixonMcInnes.
Dharmesh shared really interesting insights into how creating a shared vision, understanding, and culture in an organization is key to ensuring the success of the business, especially when you are a company like Mind Candy that has experienced rapid growth in a short period of time.
Will also put across a number of compelling arguments related to how so many organizations still remain closed, siloed, slow to change, and deeply hierarchical. He described how workplaces need to progress to become supportive, open, conducive to creativity, motivating, and fun while focusing on values that support a higher social consciousness and benefit over shameless and hungry profiteering to support a few individual’s pockets. He has captured his thoughts in his recently published book called Culture Shock.
My presentation was focused on motivation, along with ideas on teams and organizational culture and values. I also included a couple of exercises and tools I use to visualize and surface these behaviors when working with groups.
One of my favorite books on the subject of motivation recently has been Dan Pink’s Drive, where he covers concepts behind extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation refers to motivation that comes from factors outside an individual, typically financial incentives. Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that is driven by an interest or enjoyment in the task itself, and exists within the individual rather than relying on any external pressure. Intrinsic motivation is based on taking pleasure in an activity rather than working towards an external reward.
The key factors for those that are intrinsically motivated are:
Purpose – a clear vision and shared understanding of what needs to be done
Autonomy – space and support to achieving results using techniques and approaches under their own control
Mastery – interested in mastering a topic, rather than just learning to achieve ‘good enough’
Birds flock, fish school, people “tribe”.
Tribal Leadership is a concept captured by Dave Logan and his team, which is based on research conducted over a 10-year period with 24,000 people across 24 organizations from around the world. His argument is what makes the tribe more effective than others is its culture. Tribes generally consist of between 20-150 people and have 5 stages of cultural significance.
Stage one – people are socially alienated, and the theme of their words is that life has given them a bad deal, so it’s ok to do whatever it takes to survive.
Stage two – people do the minimum to get by, show almost no initiative or passion, and engage in passive-aggressive behavior.
Stage three – people engage in anything that’s going on, with energy and commitment, but when you listen closely, they talk mostly about themselves and focus on appearing smarter and better than others. They think they’re focused on team concerns, but their actions show their interest is personal. People tend to form two-person relationships, so if they manage of a group of ten, they have ten relationships.
Stage four– teams are the norm, focused around shared values and a common purpose. Information moves freely throughout the group. People’s relationships are built on shared values. They tend to ask, “what’s the next right thing to do?” Their language focuses on “we,” not “me” – and are ready for genuine partnerships.
Stage five– the theme of communication is limitless potential, bounded only by imagination and group commitment. People in this culture can find a way to work with almost anyone, provided their commitment to values is at the same intensity as their own. (Unlike Stage Four, the focus isn’t on “our values” but on resonant values.) There is almost no fear, stress, or workplace conflict. People talk as though the world is watching them, which may well be the case, as their results are making history.
True leaders can talk to people at all levels, however people in each level can only move up one level. It is the responsibility of leaders to nudge tribes to the next level. Great leaders introduce tribes to one another – bring people together from tribes unknown to themselves and one another in order to create amazing things.