Or chasing shiny objects for that same reason

Pic by Kalle K Artwork by Moira Dillon

This inc. magazine post set my “fight or flight” reaction in motion.

There’s nothing wrong with the post itself. It offers free access to various hiring tools from Google.

What is wrong, is the underlined message: stimulating our fascination for “shiny objects”.

The headline presented a one in a lifetime opportunity. To access Google’s hiring secret sauce. For Free.

Everyone cheered and got excited, even before reading the post. We have a fascination for “shiny objects”. Scientists say that’s caused by our inbuilt desire for water.

We are so thirsty for shortcuts -especially those coming from Netflix, Zappos or Google- that we don’t perform any due diligence.

Are you looking for a quick solution to fix your organizational culture?

Beware of “shiny objects”: their real impact is more distant than it seems.

What Worked for Google, Won’t Work for You

Don’t get me wrong. Outside inspiration is good. But mimicking what other organizations do won’t make your organization smarter.

It’s good to learn from others. But the best lessons are those learned from direct experimentation. Google wrote its “manual” by practicing first. Google followed its own learning path.


Shouldn’t you stop trying to become “like Google”?

I’ve seen many companies who tried to implement “Google-like” processes and ended hitting the wall.

Why?

Because the process wasn’t right for their needs.

But, most importantly, their internal culture wasn’t ready.

Copying a process –from any renowned company- because it looks cool or “innovative” is not smart.

Cultural Transformation Doesn’t Accept Shortcuts

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”- Helen Keller

There’s nothing wrong with looking and learning from what other companies are doing. To look for inspiration is always good. But please avoid taking shortcuts to transform your organizational culture. Copy-pasting other companies’ “manuals” will only accelerate disaster.

Every poster-child organization got where they are after a long process. Building “Cultural Fitness” requires preparation and time. Before jumping you must warm up and stretch.

Shiny Objects Make Companies Blind

“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”-Oscar Wilde

What worked for others, won’t necessarily work for your organization. Be honest about the current state of your culture. What makes your culture strong (or not)? What behaviors do you promote or inhibit? What’s possible? Is the leadership really committed to change things?

Consistency and coherency are more important than pretending to be cool. There’s nothing sexy about a grown-up in teenage clothes. Stay true to your real identity.

Don’t Fall in Love with Magic Pills

“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.”- H I Mencken

Google is the medicine to what condition? Are you clear on the cultural problem you are trying to solve? Diagnosis first, treatment, second; leave medicine always as the last resource (especially magic pills).

Stop falling in love with all the cool stuff that companies such as Google, Netflix, Amazon and Zappos, do. Please spend that time in talking (not sending useless surveys) to your people. Learn what bothers them. Check what’s going on. Get surprised by their personal passions. See how your organization’s ambition can connect to your team’s dreams.

There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

“When you get something for nothing, you just haven’t been billed for it yet.” –Franklin P. Jones

There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Or a free corporate hiring manual for that purpose. Why is Google sharing their secret sauce? Are they simply walking away from it? Basically, when executives copy and follow Google’s path, they just reinforce and promote the tech-giant’s leadership and innovative culture.

Google’s “manipulating” others to promote its culture for free seems like a nice return on investment.

Why Shiny Objects Are More Distant Than They Appear

“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.” –Herman Melville

What Another organization’s solution is already a past solution: by coming someone else’s current solution, you are missing what’s next. Google is probably working on something else already. Take their current hiring “manual” –or any of their ideas or processes- as a springboard to design your culture next leap.

How far can you jump now?

You Have to Walk Before You Run

Change requires preparation.

A client –let’s call it ACME- was looking for advice on how to implement an –a la Netflix– unlimited vacation policy. It seemed like a cool idea.

The problem is that ACME is run by a “need to control”. It’s a very top-down and process-oriented organization. The last time they allowed some employees to work remotely, the experiment was cancelled within the first two-weeks.

It’s hard to offer a free-for-all vacation policy when managers still want to have their direct reports in close sight.

You can imagine what my advice to the client was.

Claim Your Dream

Cultural change starts with a clear definition of the company you want to become.

It requires a clear direction. And full support and commitment from top leaders. Changing a culture requires a cadence of on-going experimentation and iteration. And to provide a culture of trust and transparency, where it’s “safe to try”.

Google or Netflix cultures -including their processes and policies- are a byproduct of consistency, coherency and preparation. And time.

Stop trying to be someone else.

Claim your dream. Become the best organization you can be.

Before You Leave

We help organizations unblock, accelerate and transform their organizational cultures. Adaptivity is the new competitive advantage.

Learn more about our Change Leadership School: http://liberationist.org

Follow our Medium publication: Stretch for Change for thoughts on Leadership, Innovation and Culture Transformation.

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