I started working in software in 1999. Since then I’ve worked in pretty much all aspects of how software gets built, including working with customers to produce sales directly. Through my experiences I’ve been a part of processes, and have tried to bring in processes in order to “improve” productivity, reliability or something in between. Having seen the motivations, reactions and various results, including one where the employees vigorously rejected the new approach, I have built up a unique point of view about business.
Over the past 3 years I started researching business, in an attempt to build my own. Over that time I slowly started to discover that the current model for doing business didn’t match my principles. My real breakthrough was when a company I worked for hired a psychologist to do some leadership training.
The company I worked for as a manager had decided that some across the board management training would do the company some good. Over the course of 3 or so weeks he worked with the middle management and upper management teams on building up the relationships and tools which we could use to do our jobs.
So what is a middle manager really? The middle management’s job is to constantly fix things. Upper management tries to identify what can generate value, from processes to products. Those directives are then handed down, sometimes very rapidly, to the middle manager, whose job it is to implement. The problem is that a lot of the directives provided are long term in nature, and therefore must be balanced with what’s necessary in order to keep doing what makes the company money in the first place. At the same time, the middle manager must work with the people who report to them, and often those who don’t report to them, in order to organize and resolve interrelationship issues. Finally, the workers also expect direction as to what needs to happen and in some cases corrections to get them back on track. It got interesting as I found and worked with more and more people with varying backgrounds and personal goals.
My personal breakthrough occurred when I was speaking to the psychologist about the motivations of the workers not being in alignment with those of the organization’s. He stated to me that it sounded like I was talking more about a female organization than a male one. I thought that was an interesting comment and started looking into the differences. A male organization is focused on building hierarchy, and the struggle to rise to the top. A female organization focuses on the relationship between individuals, but tends to be less or non-structural in nature and not for profit. While neither of these match up exactly with what I had started to envision, it created a clear contrast between the business world I was trying to take part in, and the one I wanted to take part in.
With this insight I started to try to define what it was I was really looking for, and trying to define why it wasn’t. After a few years of research, discussions with friends and colleges, as well as a couple of trial and errors, I finally believe I’ve identified what the problem ultimately is.
This breakthrough has lead me to construct a concept I call Community Style Business.