Even in very innovative companies, it's sometimes hard to apply this pioneering mindset also on organizational topics. I'm amazed by the simplicity and actionability of the concept of “workable solution”, as defined and used in Holacracy's Governance Meeting process.
The goal of this meeting is to optimize the structure of the organization. And the method used to be sure everybody's voice is heard and no one dominate decision-making is the following (pay attention to the Objection Round):
- Present Proposal — The proposer identifies a tension and presents a proposal
- Clarifying Questions — Anyone can ask questions to better understand the proposal
- Reaction Round — Each person reacts to the proposal, and no response or interruption is allowed
- Amend & Clarify — The proposer can clarify the intent of her proposal, or amend it
- Objection Round — The facilitator of the meeting asks each participant if they see any reason why adopting this proposal would cause harm or move the organization backwards
- Integration — Goal is to amend the proposal so that it would not cause any objection, and would still address the proposer’s original tension
What strikes me here is that the goal is not to aim for a perfect and definitive answer, but to find a workable solution on which to iterate quickly. If there is one, it will be adopted: decisions are not postponed because someone thinks more data or analysis could result in a better decision.
“Do we see any reason why adopting this proposal would cause us harm or move us backwards?” That's it.
I see three reasons to aim for workable solutions:
- We can't predict the future. Predictions are valuable in complicated situations, but have lost all relevance in a complex world. We waste energy and time producing an illusion of control of the complex systems organizations are by trying to shoot for the best possible decisions.
- When decisions are small, we can revise them often, whereas when we invested much efforts in defining “the best” solutions, we become attached and stick to them much longer than needed when things don't turn out as planned.
- Change start with changing. Innovating on organizational topics requires as much courage as innovating on a product. We should test and learn our way into next steps rather than falsely believing we can predict and plan our way to innovation. Start by doing.