Group endeavors are enhanced if they are based on cooperative teamwork. Likewise, a department of an enterprise attains superb performance if it exhibits unity or a team approach. Thus, a company imbued with teamwork from one side to the other, from top to bottom, unified in its efforts across the entire enterprise becomes one that excels. Namely it excels because of its ‘enterprise unity’ – because it appears to operate as a single unit. Individuals become connected and understand the power of cooperation that leads to their own superb individual performances.
1. Enterprise Unity Defined
This ‘unity’ is an ideal to which the company should aspire. And as a CEO, you must take some steps to enhance, if not ensure, Enterprise Unity within the operations over which you have responsibility.
But be advised: this is not about sameness. It is about awareness and anticipating personal benefits from proactive cooperation. It separates the word ‘unified’ from the word ‘unity’. It is not unified in the sense of centralized top-down control. It is unified only in the sense of having unity among disparate groups.
Enterprise Unity is a concept that begins by ensuring clarity of information flow at all levels within the company. It continues by insisting on a fairness of treatment of staff at different parts of the company including a balance of reward systems. Developing personal accountability is followed by creating departmental accountability and finally, enterprise accountability. For enterprise-wide unity, financial performance must be tied to authority throughout. As it is described here, Enterprise Unity ends by creating communication links so that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing, most, if not all, of the time.
- The Backwards Approach
Most people who set about to improve a business start at a top point of the company, using some uniform approach that is not unlike Enterprise Unity and work downward. CCCC does just the opposite. We start at the bottom of the company and work upwards, not arriving at Enterprise Unity until the 9th of 10 major steps. In this way we have prevented well-meaning planners from deciding in advance and in isolation what the line workers want and what they can and should achieve. CCCC develops unity in the groups of individuals of the company that makes the whole appear uniform. Others would start by unification at the beginning and the final result would be anything but unity.
- Components of Enterprise Unity
The components of Enterprise Unity are:
- Individual Accountability
- Information flow
- Department Accountability
- Financial Accountability
- Reward fairness
Each is discussed in separately available papers as well in reference 1, Feeding or Starving the Organization, Chapter 8.
- Advantages to Components
The advantage of Enterprise Unity to its constituent components begins at Information Flow. Meaningful Information Flow allows people to react in a timely fashion to the right impetus at the right time.
Personal Accountability throughout the enterprise is essential to avoid ambiguity, especially as it relates to how well one person serves the others and how one department serves another. When a clear system of Accountability is established throughout the company, the effectiveness and efficiency of each person and each unit can be measured, monitored and improved.
Unity of communications ensures that duplication and confusion are minimized, that awareness of what the neighbor is doing lightens your own load, and that noses are not out of joint because of a lack of knowledge of what is going on.
Financial Accountability puts financial responsibility where it belongs and removes it from centralized control (usually synonymous with not knowing or feeling the pulse of what is really going on within the operational groups), moving it to where things are happening on a daily, hour-by-hour or minute-by-minute, basis.
Balanced rewards are perceived as fair rewards and avoid the perverse effect of rewards creating hostility towards the company or jealousy among employees.
- Examples of Enterprise Unity
The first example of Enterprise Unity is given in Feeding or Starving the Organization (reference 1), Section 6.9h, The Power of Teamwork. This discusses how a sports team that finds a unity of approach wins game after game against opposition, who are equipped with equally talented players. The team appears to be loaded with superstars. An immediate case in point, close to my home is the football team, the Montreal Alouettes, with a 11 wins vs. 1 loss record so far in this 2004 Canadian Football League season (at the time of the writing of this note). The sports pundits wax on about the superstar quarterback, the superstar line, the superstar running backs, the superstar receivers and the superstar defense. No team, no matter how lucky, can have so many superstars. But they can certainly appear to have many superstars because it is a natural outcome of Enterprise Unity.
From the same book, Section 6.9, a perverse example is given, namely the New York Rangers hockey team, where a collection of so-called superstars with a payroll of $80 million has been unable to place any better than #16 for each of the past 5 years while teams like the Ottawa Senators and Tampa Bay Lightening with payrolls of $28 million finish first.
The next example is much closer to each of our homes. It is our brain as described by Steven Johnson in Mind Wide Open (reference 8). “The brain is not a general purpose computer with one unified central processor. It is an assemblage of competing sub-systems, specialized for particular tasks.” They compete in that they all try to assist at any point. We never notice unless we fool the brain such as twirling our body around and then suddenly stopping. One part of the brain gets signals of movement (the liquid still sloshing around in our inner ear), and the other of a stop – the visual. So, as a result, the room appears to continue whirring around us. However, the visual being dominant, tells us we actually have stopped, while the less dominant balance system suggests we are still moving. Even this bizarre child-made situation is evidence of the brain unity. Unity comes from the fact that the brain is composed of many departments: heartbeat regulation, fight-or-flight instinct, face recognition, following eye movement of others, (reference 2), grammar manipulation (reference 3), etc., all of which are demonstrated in infants who have not yet had a chance to learn these things from their environments. In the spinning situation, two of the departments provide information regarding the action of body rotation.
Evidence of the division of tasks within the brain is all around us. How about a few expressions?
“Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” (see reference 4). The brain’s divisions allow different behavior focuses for each of the sexes – communication for women or mechanical adaptability for men, for example.
“Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.” – Robert Heinlein – reinforces these sexual differences.
Enterprise Unity comes from recognizing the power of the individual to perform according to a personal rhythm and drive. The blending together of many distinct individuals all pointing towards the same objective for the greater good of the group continues the pace. Then we feed the individuals, one at a time according to their needs to make it happen. The result is super performance of the group and the appearance of many superstars within the group.
Not just a theory, the concept of Enterprise Unity can be applied in practice following some well-defined steps. Positive results begin to appear almost immediately with a change of attitude of employees, best described as improved morale.