Qu’est-ce que tu fais mardi ? Ou pourquoi Percolab tient ses réunions ouvertes.

« Pourquoi ne viens-tu pas à l’une de nos rencontres d’équipe? » dis-je au serveur. «  Elles ont lieu tous les mardis de 10h à midi chez ECTO, l’espace de travail partagé. »

Il hoche sérieusement la tête et note l’information sur une serviette derrière le comptoir. J’attrape mon latté et me dirige vers l’une des tables pour travailler sur une proposition budgétaire pour l’un de nos prochains projets.

Inviter quelqu’un, pas-si-au hasard-que-ça, à l’une des rencontres d’équipe de Percolab est devenu l’une de mes pratiques quotidiennes. Je dois faire entre 5 et 10 de ces invitations par semaine. Parfois, ces invitations sont reçues comme un cadeau, une opportunité, c’est le cas de ce serveur. Il vient juste de passer un diplôme d’études supérieur en urbanisme et il est intéressé par les consultations et le co-design citoyens : l’un des axes d’expertise de Percolab. Il m’a reconnue suite à la facilitation d’une session de planification stratégique que j’ai donnée pour l’une des unités à l’université où il a fait ses études.

D’autres fois, les invitations sont reçues les yeux écarquillés par l’incrédulité comme si je proposais de venir samedi au brunch familial, sans que l’on se connaisse ; dans le genre : apporte des fleurs et rejoins les p’tits et Matante Guylaine sur la trampoline.

« Pourquoi m’inviter à une réunion d’équipe ? » me demande la personne, « Vous ne traitez pas de trucs internes dans vos rencontres ? »

« Oui, bien sûr », je confirme, « nous traitons de trucs internes. Ça peut être stratégique, opérationnel, ou cela peut avoir avec notre dynamique interpersonnelle et le premier mardi du mois il s’agit de questions internationales. Certaines réunions parle d’argent et de la façon dont nous auto-gérons nos revenus. Il arrive même que nous ayons à gérer des conflits durant nos rencontres. Comme je le disais, mardi à 10h, tu devrais venir participer ».

« Oh, d’accord, je peux venir observer », dit la personne, « Je suis vraiment curieuse. Je serais très discrète, c’est promis ».

« Heu… bien… non, ça ne marche pas comme ça », Je réplique avec un sourire retenu, « Je ne t’invite pas à venir observer. Nous ne sommes pas des hamsters. Je t’invite à être avec nous, à participer. A nous aider à traverser nos défis, nos questions, à amener toute ton expérience, intelligence et sagesse, pour contribuer à nos décisions ».

« Vraiment ? » demande la personne, « Mais tu viens juste de me rencontrer ! Comment puis-je comprendre tout votre contexte, votre fonctionnement, vos règles ?  Comment puis-je réellement contribuer à une prise de décision ? Et votre directeur, il va dire quoi ? »

«  Pour commencer, il n’y a pas de directeur chez Percolab. Nous sommes vraiment une organisation horizontale et nous prenons nos décisions selon une approche basée sur le consentement. Bien sûr il n’est pas imaginable que tu comprennes tout. Mais participer à l’une de nos réunions est un moyen nettement plus efficace pour nous connaître que de lire la page « Accueil » de notre site web. Si nous discutons d’un problème nécessitant une décision, et que toi, depuis ta compréhension forcément limitée, tu y vois un risque potentiel pour notre entreprise, nous allons t’écouter et le prendre en compte pour avancer ».

« OK », dit la personne – je peux voir sa curiosité grandir, « mais est-ce que je serai la seule personne étrangère ? »

« Aucune idée ! » Lui dis-je. « Nous le saurons quand tu te présenteras ! Certaines semaines nous n’avons aucun invité (on ne les appelle pas des étrangers), il y en a souvent un ou deux, et il est arrivé, plusieurs d’entre nous étant à l’extérieur avec des clients, qu’il y ait trois fois plus d’invités que de membres Percolab ! Ces semaines-là sont en général super pour « brainstormer » autour de questions qui nous travaillent, comme repenser notre site web, par exemple ».

Ça ne finit pas par être épuisant d’avoir de nouvelles personnes chaque semaine dans vos réunions ? » Me demande-t-on ?

« Ça arrive, «  j’admets, « Certaines semaines ça m’agace d’avoir à accueillir des gens nouveaux lors d’une rencontre d’équipe, en particulier lorsqu’il y a un sujet vraiment important pour moi. Cela dit, à chaque fois, je trouve que nos invités m’aident à traverser les questions difficiles que ce soit vis à vis de notre métier ou de notre travail ensemble en tant qu’équipe. C’est tout particulièrement vrai si la personne n’arrive pas à saisir aisément ce que nous faisons ; ça nous oblige à clarifier la façon dont nous parlons de nous-mêmes et d’être plus transparents dans notre travail ensemble. Donc, je peux arriver grognon mais je repars presque toujours énergisée… avec l’aide du café ! »

« Quel genre de personne vient à vos réunions ? » me demande la personne.

« Il y a des invités intéressés par une collaboration avec nous, certains veulent nous étudier pour un projet d’étude, d’autres viennent à nos rencontres pour en savoir plus sur l’auto-organisation voire transférer de nouvelles pratiques dans leur entreprise ; il y a des experts internationaux profitant de leur passage à Montréal pour échanger avec nous et des personnes déjà clientes ou qui songent à travailler avec nous – participer à nos réunions leur donnent une idée vraiment concrète de l’application de notre savoir. L’une de mes pratiques favorites est d’inviter d’un coup tous les participants de mes ateliers à venir à l’une de nos réunions d’équipe. Tu devrais voir leur visage ! »

« D’accord ; je viens ! » s’exclame ma nouvelle connaissance, « Ça fait longtemps que je voulais en savoir plus sur l’auto-organisation mais sans être tout à fait sûr que mon équipe est prête. Vous voir en action m’aiderait. Je me sens vraiment mieux à l’idée de ne pas être juste un voyeur et contribuer avec mes connaissances et l’expérience que j’ai déjà. Je trouve cette idée de réunion ouverte vraiment inspirante et inhabituelle. Vous êtes courageux de faire ça ! »

« Ahh… » Je réponds prudemment. J’ai envie d’accepter ce compliment mais en même temps je suis un peu agacée que cette pratique que je trouve si normale soit considérée comme courageuse. « Il nous faut choisir : soit on parle de collaboration soit on expérimente, on vit l’expérience de ce que c’est que de travailler avec des «étrangers». Nous pouvons parler de transparence ou bien nous ouvrir à d’autres afin que nous puissions vraiment être vus, pour le meilleur ou pour le pire, et mieux comprendre qui nous sommes et nos points aveugles. Nous pouvons parler d’intelligence collective ou alors nous engager pour de bon avec d’autres personnes venant de contextes réellement différents. Pour moi et probablement pour tous les autres chez Percolab, ouvrir nos réunions bénéficie à l’entreprise ; la générosité que les gens nous montrent en partageant leurs connaissances dans notre travail est incroyable. Mais ouvrir nos rencontres d’équipe est aussi un acte significatif et symbolique: nous sommes une fractale de la façon dont nous aimerions que les organisations fonctionnent dans le monde. Imagine que les gouvernements, les institutions et les entreprises, les fondations et les associations aient un modèle de réunion qui soit ouvert, transparent, collaboratif et s’inspirent de l’intelligence collective ? Juste ça. Imagine un peu. »

« Waow ! » Me dit l’autre, « Je vais avoir besoin de temps pour me faire à cette idée-là. On pourrait peut-être en parler après la rencontre de mardi. »

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Méthodes et outils : self-management-2 | | | |

Self-management and public administrations are not a match you say?

I met Bernd Reichert at a training I offered in Brussels on Self-management. During introductions everyone was surprised that we had amongst us a Head of Unit from a European Union Agency that supports small and medium enterprises to bring disruptive innovations to market. Even more surprising was that he was already implementing self-management since 2014 and was there to fine tune his practices and reflect on how he was doing it! It’s not evident how to implement self-management within a larger hierarchical organization; the story of Bernd is helpful if that is your situation and to learn that it is actually possible! After the training I interviewed Bernd to learn a bit more about his amazing story. Here it is.


How did you come to being a ‘director’ of a self-managing unit at a European Union Agency?

I participated in an Art of Hosting training with some colleagues; in the European institutions it is named Participatory Leadership. At that training I was given the book Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux by one of the team. This gave words to the ways I was thinking and working and supported my shift to deliberately develop my unit with self-organization, wholeness and evolutionary purpose (the three main elements described in the book).

However, I was challenged because in the book Laloux states that if you are in a bigger organization and you are not at the top, or the people at the top are not supporting working like this, then forget it. Later on Laloux did change this story though, stating the job of the manager is to hold what he calls, the “shit umbrella”. That’s to say, make sure people can do their work in a self-organized way and also take care of the people who don’t understand this way of working.

How is your unit set up?

We are currently 60 people and still growing. We are organized as per our business processes into three strands of about 20 persons each: i) Evaluation of proposals; ii) Contract management; iii) Business acceleration. Each sector has a ‘head’ of sector who acts as team coach and helps the sector find its way of what they are doing. Each sector is organized into teams of 5–6 people. There are no orders.

How is a self-managing unit perceived within your European Agency?

If you deliver, people leave in you peace. They might think you are crazy, but they leave you in peace. When I first let my colleagues attend a meeting between business units on my behalf their was an uproar. Then over time it became normal.

What is a challenge you still have to figure out?

Performance assessment and promotions. There is an invitation now to do performance assessment as conversations in groups. But we work with people who do expect the organization to work in a certain way and “does” the assessment to them. This is a major issue right now.

What does your recruitment process look like?

The important part of the recruitment process is being able to get a sense if the person applying has a belief that self-management is possible. That’s basically all we are looking for. They don’t need to know ‘how’ to do it, but at least believe in the possibility.

What have you had to unlearn?

1. I am able to decide by myself. It’s a deeply rooted belief that there has to be a hierarchy.

2. You are allowed to make errors. We very much come from a blame culture. So that is huge.

3. Work can be fun. There is an ingrained belief that if you get paid for doing this work it must be serious and hard.

What impact is this having on other units? If any?

Here are two self-managing practices that are being picked up by other units:

1. Freedom — you are the best positioned to know the best place where you need to be during a work day and how you track your hours. Everyone has flex time and telework as they wish. The priority is more on delivering on the work rather than having to know where a person is.

2. Personal development. Training is free and you can take trainings on whatever you want. The priority is people developing themselves rather than having to take trainings related to their job.

What is your advice for other leaders in large hierarchical organizations contemplating a shift to self-organization?

Just let go. You cannot know what will happen until you do it. It’s like everyone is standing around a swimming pool and now everyone is allowed to go in. There is no real danger because the swimming pool is shallow. You can stand up at any time.

Thank you Bernd for sharing.
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What is the pay system you dream of? Beyond the taboo of money

As an employee for 16 years, I was thankful for my regular pay checks. I never really gave a thought to how I would dream of being paid.  In 2007, I co-founded my own company and I was faced with the freedom and possibility of all that compensation could potentially be. A journey began.

At the start, submerged in the business of starting a business, my associate and I agreed on a model that was a cinch to administrate, though somewhat naive: equal salary. No need to waste time tallying up who is bringing in more business or debating who has more value. All company earnings go into a collective « pot » and equal pay comes out, irrelevant of what each person put in. A bit idealistic you might say? Yes. The model requires similar work experience, similar weekly work hours and similar vacation time. And of course it also requires sufficient revenues for all.

As the company grew, we realized we wanted to offer freedom and possibility for people to create the working rhythm and pace that suits their needs and desires. We didn’t want to systematize any obligations, giving preference to diversity and modularity. This meant that we needed to move on to a different compensation model.

Initially, we were attracted to an algorithm based compensation model. We were inspired by Buffer’s approach. They even have a transparent salary calculator whereby you can find out how much you would make if you worked there.   What were the variables that could help us establish our own contextualized formula?

After a bit of in house exploration we crafted a proposal for the team with our percolab variables as complexity of the work, experience and risk. We held a team workshop and each of us plugged in numbers to try to see if the formula would work for us. Major flop! The process revealed that working abstractly with numbers caused us to create a collective salary budget much higher than the funds available. We were operating from a dream scenario rather than reality. This is when it started becoming clear that the path to fair and equitable pay required the whole team to understand money flows of our company.

But how could we do this? The regular salary model offers stability and regularity of bi-monthly pay checks of fixed amounts as well as benefits. We generally have little influence or involvement in this approach as it is directly linked to an organisation’s budget and pay scale.  The freelancer model offers flexibility and autonomy around our earnings as we are responsible for negotiating our own contractual agreements. The latter model usually comes with extra administrative burden and stress to be able to ensure regular and sufficient pay. Was there a way to blend the advantages of these models together?

Things were becoming clearer. Not only did we want self-set salaries but we also wanted to allow for variance from month to month in the amount each person was earning or wanted to work. As simple as that, we broke free from our fixed salaries and stepped into a negotiated agreements model that we also call variable self-determined salaries.  In so doing, we each gained control over our earnings, began benefiting from a shared administrative system and were better able to leverage the collective work opportunities amongst ourselves to help ensure regular and sufficient pay for all.

Our percolab model goes like this.

  1. Each project has a project lead and project budget parameters (projects can be client based and others not)
  2. A fixed percentage of the project goes to the company  to cover our collective services  (our beautiful office, insurances, web services, resources, business development, accounting, work tools etc.) and development.
  3. Together, the project team (anyone in the team) discusses and makes financial agreements based the project honorarium budget, with full transparency. We strive for a feeling of fairness and there is freedom in how agreements are made
  4. Administration of the compensation model is carried out in a distributed, collective way.  Percolab team members keep track of their agreements with standardized tools and are responsible for their own data entry into the online book keeping system (WaveApps). The project lead takes care of all agreements, invoicing and billing with external contractors, clients and suppliers.
  5. Any challenges with a project that have consequences on the budget are managed within the project with the team and do not overflow onto the company.

Each month any percolab member is involved in multiple projects (as lead, team member or business development).  Therefore your salary is the sum of the work you accomplished that month in each project as per your agreements.

For the system to work, everyone needs to make explicit their work availability and skills they can offer or wish to develop within projects.

Suddenly it was if each person was injected with more space, freedom and creativity to sculpt their ideal professional world. A new service went from idea to reality and the team was stepping up to greater challenges  than ever before. Having control over ones earnings reveals itself as a key lever for empowerment and leadership. Services and business development grew. With hindsight it seems evident that for people to be in their full potential having control over their pay is a key condition.  

Underlying principles

  1. Engagement is commiserate with our power to self-determine our own salary and expenses. Each person is responsible for the salary they want to earn.
  2. Practicing conversations around value helps us to better own our own value.
  3. Our relationship with money is not a taboo, but a skill that can be developed.

Impact

This flexible compensation model has supported us getting beyond our assumptions and fears around pay. It helps us get to deeper conversations around value and to work with money without it being the finality. The potential of a team is strengthened through this compensation as practice approach. More specifically:

  1. Individual: We are all even more responsible and engaged. Each person is finding her own balance with how much she wants to be working, earning, learning, playing and making their personal projects come to action. We are each developing skills around money, business and value.
  2. Teams: More solidarity, mutual support and good spirit.
  3. Organization: More initiatives and entrepreneurship and more revenues.

Lessons

1. A compensation model is meant to be energizing a team forward – if that is no longer the case, then try out a different model. It’s as easy as that.

2. A compensation model can be flexible and self-managing

3. A flexible negotiated compensation model can be an enormous driver of individual, team and organisational development.

If you want to know more about this model and the tools that support its functioning, contact Samantha Slade sam@percolab.com

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Art of Asking for Help

How comfortable are you at asking for help? How clear are your requests for help?

Have you ever thought that we can improve our asking for help skills and even approach asking for help as a practice? Our awareness of the specific type of help we are asking for and the words we use to ask for help can be fine-tuned. Indeed, the more our request for help is precise the higher our chances of obtaining the help we actually want and avoid frustrations on both sides (feelings of not being heard or not being appreciated).

At percolab we have developed a simple tool to support the development of our asking for help culture. We have seen how it can open up space and deconstruct preset minds. We have noticed that it can work with everyone.

Before you dive into the typology, think of a moment when you offered help recently and think of a moment when you asked for help recently.

Jot down your examples and then read through the typology and see where they fit. If your examples are not in the typology, let me know so the typology can evolve and strengthen with our collective intelligence.

1. Ask me questions (coaching)

2. Show me how to . . . (demonstrate)

3. Tell me information or perspective (local knowledge/experience based)

4. Give me expert advice (expertise based)

5. Think creatively with me (idea generation)

6. Give me feedback on my idea, model etc. (enriching)

7. Be my audience/participant (practice)

8. Provide me moral support (emotion)

9. Give me a hand… (physical, action help)

10. Loan/give me something (material support)

11. Protect and care for me (abuse support)

12. Make sense with me (intellectual/intuitive)

13. Motivate me (kick in the butt)

14. Step in with/for me (solidarity)

15. Can you listen to me (attention)

Now, write down two requests for help using the typology. Go and ask someone for help. If the person can’t answer the first request, try the second one. How was that? Did you notice a difference?

As collaboration and participatory leadership are on the rise, our capacity to excel at asking for help is becoming all the more important. The time of the hero leader who could figure everything out on his or her own is over.

It is kind to ask for help. Do not trust someone who cannot ask for help”.

Note: Feel free to adapt and adjust this typology. Think of it as a commons. I invite you share how you are using it and how it is evolving with your usage. here or email sam@percolab.com

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OrgBook – Announcement

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