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.

Transforming Nothing 


Digital Disruption has given way to Transformation.

When I work with people in legacy companies, transformation means nothing much. (Many of these people work in pockets of new thinkers who are trying to make multiple, iterative, small, effective changes).

Yet for a majority of those in top management:

  • Transformation means old companies stuggling to maintain market share.
  • Transformation means outsourcing people (shared services models) to try and wring out the last bit of value from existing structures.
  • Transformation means vast change projects that fail to address the basic building blocks of the organization.
  • Transformation means top down big technology and big consultancy projects that cost millions, yet deliver little. The projects merely tick the “transformation box”.
  • Transformation means a new order that is exactly the same as before. The same leaders, the same jobs, perhaps different titles. It’s window dressing.

To me it says “we don’t know what we’re doing!”

This type of transformation is as useful and exciting as the Transformer toy I was given as a kid. It turned into rock.

Is your company going through one or many “transformations”? Has anything changed? How do you feel?

Image from http://www.jaredunzipped.com/2015/09/the-triumph-of-rock-lords.html

Technology Won’t Change Your Culture

Technology won’t change your culture.
I have to emphasise it again.  Technology won’t change your culture. No matter what technology you buy. Stop accepting the tech vendor promises at face value.

You need to put in the hard work to change the people side of systems, processes, rewards, learning, and organizational design. The implications for old school IT techniques are huge. Design-Deliver-Deploy will only launch the tech. Ancient OCM campaigns, issued from up above by various silos, will have no effect.

It’s difficult and shocking to many.

Take a look at this matrix.

Tech-Culture Matrix

The most progressive and effective path is to move from the bottom left, up to top left, and then to the right. That’s the path most consistently high performing organizations follow.

But far too many try to push right immediately and never receive the benefits the vendors or big consultancies promise.

Where is your company? Which path are you taking?