“Do no harm”, or How not to become a corporation

    Hello, Habrovsk citizens! My name is Mikhail Zavileisky, I am the CEO of a great company DataArt. We have been engaged in IT outsourcing for many years, and all these years we have been doing everything possible to keep the spirit of the same group of professionals who are going to earn their favorite business, from which everything once began. And let now there are already more than a thousand of us, we are desperately trying not to turn into a "corporation".

    About 10 years ago, several employees from a competing company joined us. The company is very good, at that time much more mature and successful than us. To my natural question about the reasons, it was said that the competitor, while still small, “began to acquire large shortcomings too quickly.” The thought was firmly entrenched in the head, and for ten years now we have been trying to grow, but to acquire weaknesses as slowly as possible.

    Where do companies get extra routines, useless functions and managers, aimless reports and rituals? Basically, this is a consequence of three reasons:

    1. Excessive systematization.
    2. Inertia and stereotyping.
    3. Management errors.

    Excessive systematization - when instead of creating order there is a struggle with chaos. If we make a description of the processes, then it is comprehensive. If quality is lame, you cannot do without a quality system. If a company spends more than it earns, first of all, it is necessary to clearly allocate all costs to profit centers. In general, all these are good ideas, only very laborious. And there is a high probability that it will not work out very well.
    The universe is chaotic, and entropy is growing. Life itself row against the current, and the authorities, as the dominant form of life, begin to believe that the current can be reversed. But - it will not work.

    Processes are volatile, adapt to environmental changes and to each other. But the descriptions are not, they become outdated or require strength for constant adjustments. And these are costs, an increase in the price of changes. And we either get stiff or look for someone who is willing to pay this price. Before formalizing something, you need to make sure: there is someone who is willing to pay more. Well, periodically check that he is still here;).

    The quality system will set standards and monitor their compliance, while setting successful standards is a difficult task, requiring creativity and wisdom. And creativity and wisdom in our world are scarce substances, but those wishing to control their colleagues are a dime a dozen. So it turns out that the whip is guaranteed, and the gingerbread must still be able to earn.

    When allocating costs, you can find a lot of interesting things, but not the truth. Commercial organizations are made up of people who turn value added into benefits for themselves. In a healthy organization, interests are balanced, and balance exists in people's feelings. You can achieve a sustainable feeling by various means, and it is not necessary to produce multipage tables and force managers to spend hours and tens of hours on accounting exercises.

    Therefore, for many years we have been living without a quality system, the described processes and a cost-sharing system. We describe something only when we are bored of saying the same thing in the same words many times. And the approach to quality and costs is more expert: constant monitoring allows you to identify problems and intervene only about the occurrence of problems. When everything is going well, we try not to interfere.

    This also helps with the problem of inertia. The higher the costs, the more anxious our attitude towards organizational assets. If you strain less, it is easier to part with the acquired. But still not easy. We declare a principle that allows any colleague to clarify the meaning of certain duties and tasks, and without a satisfactory answer, we recommend simply refraining from execution. But he works so-so - everyone is very accustomed to the fact that the instructions and requests of the management are valuable. It’s not very good to seek out and cancel the unnecessary routines of the leadership, it’s a pity to destroy something, I want to save it, at least just in case. While regular crises help to make big tidies and process upgrades, but the whole world is looking for ways to develop crisis-free, and we seem to need to look for effective ways to collect organizational waste.

    Even more dangerous than inertia is stereotyping, when practices from one company or business model are thoughtlessly transferred to another. For example, in mature companies and sustainable industries, there is a tradition of budget planning, when still not received money is divided between salary centers in advance. This works well - due to experienced financiers, stocks or leverage, statistics. But for a creative company, where the situation is changing rapidly, and the lion's share of the costs are labor costs, financial planning is difficult to separate from project management and people. If you try to dance from budgets, and not from people and relationships, it turns out to be inefficient and crooked: unloaded people are expensive, and unfortunate budgets for business trips and consumables are controlled, which hits the most busy and useful colleagues.

    We found a way out to carefully, almost in real time, count money, analyze financial position and manage cash flows, but at the same time budget decisions are made “on the spot”. Approved 95+% of budget requests, of which 90% - in less than a day, while no disaster occurs. If something goes wrong, it is enough to ask everyone, and the situation is corrected. If a company helps almost always, it is sometimes morally easy to help the company even in the subtle business of tightening their belts.

    Finally, people make mistakes and do stupid things. All. I’m so advanced in this matter. Because I really care about the environment, which will reduce the likelihood of errors and / or minimize their consequences. Preferably without prejudice to motivation. The best recipes here are also simple.

    The higher the boss, the greater the cost of error. Therefore, we do not have "the most important bosses." Everything is divided into zones of responsibility, which are always covered collectively and dynamically. Decisions are made collectively and publicly. Yes, there is no single point of decision making and “real responsibility”. But everything works, and I doubt the existence of a “real responsibility” other than criminal, in today's economic reality.

    The higher the load, the more glitches. Therefore, do not overload and overload colleagues. Yes, the price is an excessive administrative apparatus, low salaries, as a result. But many people like it, and significant turnover is not observed. But the brain that has slept or gone on vacation thinks much better and glitches less often.

    Finally, the worst. We “do not see” each other's mistakes and allow us to throw unsuccessful organizational ventures halfway and “imperceptibly”. Yes, with learned lessons it turns out very badly. Such are the "eastern" traditions. But there is no need to defend errors and justify the lost money with new expenses. And for the development of an exchange of best practices. It’s better to brag and praise each other more. We still need to learn.

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