The 10% Rule: 2,000 Conversations to Organizational Mastery

10,000 hours. That’s the time taken to master a subject. It’s far more complicated than that of course.

It got me thinking. At Kellogg Co (Kellogg’s), I talked to over 2000 employees during my time launching Yammer. I talked to c-suite executives and the newest intern. I talked to field sales managers in New Zealand, commuications advisors in South Africa, marketing leaders in Turkey and Egypt, and US truck drivers in supply chain.

As a remote employee (a test case in itself), the experience for everyone was the same: from global HQ to Japan IT. And you know what? I never did any more than start with a simple question:

Tell me about your job

I talked with many of the people again and was able to find ways to improve their collaboration and learning experiences. But I didn’t jump to solutions at first. It was about connection and understanding.

So I propose a new rule: the 10% rule. You need to talk to at least 10% of employees at an organization before you can help. Kellogg Co had close to 20,000 employees globally. Yes, this isn’t scientific! But maybe you become a master of understanding your organization in the process.

Have you spoken to 10% of your employees so far?

I will write more posts about how I worked at Kellogg Co and other companies over the next month. Want to get started sooner? Contact us for a conversation.

You can’t implement technology with the culture you are trying to fix

There’s a reason you can’t solely use technology to change a company culture. The current culture operates within a set of processes, principles and reward structures that promote certain ways of working.

New technology cannot change this.

Technology will just offer window into what it not working in your organization.

A new LMS won’t help people learn more; it’ll just be a new place to dump more eLearning with tests. New collaboration tools won’t make people more collaborative. They will just become new places to store files.

In fact, most technology will be used in a way that only provides a fraction of the potential value of the tool.

New tech, same use.

It’s not all bad. There are pockets of wonderful people in every organization that are itching to work differently. I’ve met and worked with so many. They are probably your best employees (although many go unrecognized). They will seize upon new technology that supports their way of work. Of course, they are already be running their own shadow IT.

Generally, though, technology-driven change means a build up of different systems and it will confuse everyone. Successfactors for HR. O365 (AKA congnitive overload) for IT. Broadcast tech and an ESN for comms. Different Sharepoint portals for different departments. Data tools, Salesforce, marketing tools. Competing tools for the same purpose! If the medium is the message, the message is at best confused. At worst the message is “we don’t know how to do this!” (Do you find yourself asking “which tool when?”).

It doesn’t matter how much “change management” efforts you put into telling people what they need to do.

All the while your most effective employees are using Google Drive and WhatsApp or Facebook.

The tech vendors promise change, but your company isn’t ready.

Samsung is famous for having two of many apps in their Galaxy phones. Two email apps, two messengers, two browsers. All because the company culture meant competing groups worked against each other. Technology is a window into what doesn’t work in your organization.

Wherever you sit in an organization: HR, Comms, IT, out in the business. You can prevent this by focusing on small steps first. Simplify. Play the long game. We can measure this stuff too!

We offer collaboration support for everyone and digital leadership coaching for executives. Then you can contact your preferred tech vendors.

Contact us now to get started.