Don't Be Perfect: Progression is Progressive

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- 5 min read

Let’s be honest. Really honest. There are thousands of blog posts, podcasts, thought-provoking books, videos, courses and conferences – all claiming to talk about, and help you deliver, a progressive and forward-thinking mentality.

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It’s easy to dip your toe into the proverbial murky water of organisational design, and quickly find yourself neck deep with no sign of escape. Models, structures, ways of being, processes and procedures.

You’ll read utopian case studies of the select few organisations that have truly cracked self-management and become disorientated with how much there is to do. You’ll hear words and phrases such as Teal, sociocracy, network of teams, holacracy – all banded about in everyday language.

So, let’s be honest. This progressive world is oversaturated. It’s become too complicated. We worship perfection, idolise standout examples of progressive movements, and often forget that something is better than nothing at all.

What’s the truth? You don’t need to be perfect. In fact, you’ll never reach perfection. There will always be something to change, tweak, or adjust. Is that disheartening or reassuring? Probably a bit of both.

What do you do then? It’s simple. You do what’s right for your organisation.

You don’t need to follow every Teal principle. You don’t need to be perfectly holacratic. You don’t need to remove your leadership team. You don’t need to make your managers redundant overnight. You don’t need to introduce radical policies, such as self-set salaries or unlimited holiday.

You don’t need to do any of that.

There’s one thing you need to do. Ask the right questions.

Ask the right questions to find the right solutions

What works? What doesn’t work? Where do we want to be? What do we want to achieve? Do we want to give our teams more autonomy? Where is productivity or motivation being stunted?

You may end up in a sociocratic rabbit hole and like the way teams are structured, but not agree with the decision making process of consensus. You may be inspired by Reinventing Organisations but know your business will never be truly flat, like Morning Star.

It doesn’t matter.

You can take elements from all of these structures and designs to create your own hybrid. By merging models you’ll set a course that’s relevant for your company, answers those questions, and puts you on the path to progression. It doesn’t need to be perfectly aligned to what you’ve read.

Putting your own stamp on it makes it yours. You can tweak it, change it, adapt it, and even test out new ideas from conflicting theories.

You could distribute managerial roles into the team, set an organisational model that’s aligned to sociocracy, and then bring in the advice process. In your own way, you’ve created a flat structure that gives accountability to the team. Still need an executive board? Go for it.

You could retain your existing hierarchical structure, but increase organisational transparency, give people the opportunity to set their own goals, and scrap annual appraisals. In your own way you’ve become more progressive, even if it’s not in sync with the poster companies.

It’s okay not to be perfect – Progression is progressive

I want to reassure you that it’s okay not to be perfect. Progression is progressive – regardless of how slow change is, or how much you actually adopt. Different theories have varying pros and cons – you don’t need to treat them as gospel.

There isn’t a perfect solution, so don’t go looking for it. Blend these new ways of working and create a model that’s right for you. Don’t bow down to the organisational design snobbery that will make you feel lesser than another company.

This is Reddico’s organisational structure, with the design tweaked from sociocracy, blended with the Teal principle of self-management, and adopting the advice process to make decisions and drive change (based on clear roles and responsibilities). Representatives are elected to facilitate meetings and distribute information throughout the company, and we’ve retained a board to help drive the company forward (post-90 days). We also use a tweaked version of the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) to facilitate the majority of team meetings.

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Is it perfect? No. Will it feature in Reinventing Organisations 2.0? Probably not.

Does it work for us? Yes. It gives the team more freedom, more accountability and more responsibility, with decentralised decision making and full transparency across the company.

And let’s be honest. That’s all that matters.

This is a guest post from Luke Kyte, Head of Culture at Reddico a company that puts trust and freedom at the heart of everything they do. For more information on Luke and the company, check out his rebel page.

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