Tomorrow I am presenting on Culture & Innovation to the Massachusetts arm of EMC's annual Innovation Conference and Idea Showcase.
My message will be on the inversion of the command & control pyramid. The upside down version, if you will, invites ideas and interaction from every member of the company community to join with those at generated at the classic "top" of the company.
In a word, we all get "More."
More people "working for the cause"
I recall the wisdom of EMC's founding father, Dick Egan, in what today we consider the essential ingredients of our culture: Innovation, Passion and Success.
Dick used to "try to look beyond" the fact that some people had a ton of degrees or expressed expertise in a particular area. His belief that if people were smart and passionate and delivered results, THEN they were worthy. Often times, if a person was "only" smart, or "only" offered expertise in a particular area, it wasn't enough. At the pace of a business like this, you need smart people who can adapt on a dime and always be on the look out for a break-through way to make things happen. And that STILL wasn't enough. You needed people who had the passion to MAKE IT HAPPEN!
Example: back in the early days of the 1990s, Dick set a goal of beating IBM in the IBM mainframe storage market. This was a CRAZY idea! They called it the "IBM Mainframe Storage Market" because IBM invented it, and owned more than 80% market share. When Dick came up with this idea, paired with an innovation that stood a fraction of a chance, his PASSION for the goal came in spades. His passion led the motivation of the entire workforce. We worked non-stop and celebrated every hair-brained idea, and every sale we came up with to make it happen. In less than 5 years, little no-name EMC beat IBM. They've been in our rear view mirror ever since in that market (and then some!)
And that's just one example.It was my first one and I lived it intimately. It forever changed my professional life and my vision of what success could look and feel like.
Today, EMC is moving rapidly toward to the Inverted Pyramid, the one where everyone can have an idea, be passionate about it and facilitate success. We are transitioning from the world of one spiritual leader/mentor/motivator in a company to Many -- all joined by community, customers, and a common goal. This is our 2009 Pyramid, reflective of the faces behind the best ideas from the more than 1,400 submitted by EMCers in 19 countries this past few months.
The submitted ideas were voted on -- promoted or demoted -- by the people of the company inside of our internal social network, EMC|ONE. The result of one such vote, the "People's Choice" award, will be shared tomorrow, along with what the CTO office deemed to be the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners.
Here's a short clip of Dr. Burt Kaliski, from our CTO's office. Burt discusses how the idea contest and conference was coordinated, with a few stats and stunners.
--------------------- Talk Back -------------------
What do you think of this model?
I was delighted to see the writings and thoughts of Gary Hamel, "the world's most influential business thinker" according to the Wall Street Journal, as he shared these views as well.
Let me know if you've experienced a benefit from an inverted way of getting business results.
-- Polly Pearson