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Tristan Easterday
May 12, 2021
In General Discussions
All, Since we started the Teal Organization training, I have sensed some confusion and/or concerns surrounding why we're doing this training, what it means for the organization, and how it may affect each member of team. This is understandable, as there are a lot of new terms, ideas, and approaches to problems that we have not used as a company before. I wrote this essay to give some simple perspective and hopefully mitigate some confusion in future trainings. This is not a comprehensive explanation of everything you will need to know. That’s what the training is for. This is just a starting point to discussing and understanding the objective and the magnitude of change, particularly focused on the self-management pillar (Other pillars will be discussed in later trainings). The Primary Objective The goal of the Stewardship Committee and these training sessions is for Acato to become a self-managed organization. What’s Changing? The only thing changing with this implementation is the way we make decisions and changes as an organization. When we talk about the “path to get there”, this is what we are referring to. For now, Cathy will still be largely the go-to person with major decisions like contract procurement, recruiting, payroll, etc. Why would we change anything? Let’s take a look at the current paradigm. The current method of change may look something like this: Tristan has a great idea. Tristan brings it to Cathy. Cathy either thinks Tristan's idea is terrible or amazing (there is no in-between with Tristan's ideas, unfortunately), and Cathy might consult other people before ultimately making the decision to implement Tristan's (probably amazing) idea. Multiply this by every idea for every employee in the company and every facet of the company, from HR to G2, and you can see why it is inefficient. Another downside is that decision making authority is too far away from the impact of the decision. The way this process is changing is that instead of Cathy making every decision for the company, others may be part of a group (circle) whose domain includes an area where they can make decisions about changes to the company. The big shift is that the authority to make a decision belongs to a ROLE. The individual who inhabits the role inherits the authority to make the decision from the role. If an individual person leaves the role, the authority to make decisions stays with the role and shifts to the next person who inhabits the role. Let’s take a look at how that might play out: Tristan has another idea (let's say he finds a new software package that makes automated testing easier) and wants that package to be included in the approved list of programs that we are authorized to install. Since Zack is the IT point of contact in the Acato Office Works circle, Tristan would have to consult him, since his domain is affected. If the new package costs money, Tristan would consult with the Financial Director (Sharon) to make sure funds were available. If anyone else in other domains would be affected by his proposed idea, he has a clear path to consult with those people as well. If his idea only affects him, he is free to implement that change. Notice that at no point was Cathy brought into this decision. It isn't in her domain, doesn't affect her (unless she wants to use the tool), and doesn't fall within the accountabilities of her role(s). Tristan was free to make the decision and only needed to consult people whose domains were affected. For bigger decisions that may affect multiple different roles (or an entire circle), there is a clear pathway to follow for the adoption of changes, which will be covered in the training. Is self-management that much different? Most of us have been working remotely for a while now, and we've been largely managing ourselves already. In that regard, it's not that much different. Again, the only immediate change is how we make decisions and changes as an organization. Another helpful way to think of it is like living in a community where you own some property. You can do whatever you want on your property, provided you stay within the bounds of the constitutional law, HOA regulations, etc. You live in your community. You have the option to participate in your community decisions that affect everyone such as running for city council, voting in elections, etc. You also have the option to not do those things. You can simply be a citizen that lives your life and contribute through your job. Example If his HOA allows, Stephen can build a new shed for his table saw so that his ex-fiance Sara doesn't complain about all the sawdust in the garage. Stephen's neighbors can't say anything about it because it's not their property and none of their business, even if they don’t like it or understand why he wants the shed. If, however, Stephen builds his shed on his neighbor's property, or sources wood for the shed by taking apart the neighbor's privacy fence, then that also affects the neighbor, and that neighbor has the right to bring up a tension with Stephen about how his table saw obsession is adversely affecting his neighbor's life. If you work at Acato, the job you perform (e.g., QA for the G2 project) is equivalent to the job you hold in your community. You are a part of the community (Acato) regardless of your level of participation. If you are doing your job (fulfilling your role(s)), no one will complain. You can increase your participation level in the community if you want by seeking membership in other circles and taking on other roles. Who will I go to with major concerns? For now, Cathy is still the primary leader of the company and has the same roles that she currently does. You can still go to her with questions and concerns about all the major things for which she is responsible. Over time, some of those roles may be taken up by others in the circle whose domain falls within that scope. Again, this is not meant to be a comprehensive overview or a formal piece of documentation. This is a way to bring about free and open discussion and gain a full understanding of the direction in which Acato is moving. Please ask questions! Make comments! You can reply to this post for an open discussion, or reach out to me (or anyone on the Stewardship Committee) at any time. Thank you, Tristan
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Tristan Easterday

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