Is an idea meritocracy the way to encourage experimentation in your organisation?

Firstly you may be asking yourself what is an idea meritocracy? This is an ideology and way of working that let’s the best idea win regardless of who the idea comes from. Successful companies such as Bridgewater associates and Pixar animation studios use such techniques to build a culture of radical transparency and this ensures that innovation continues to prosper.

A quick aside, I wrote this blog a few weeks ago sitting at the Amazing V&A Waterfront in Cape Town and then forgot to publish it. The picture below was taken on the day. ADVERT: Cape Town is an amazing place to start a business!

I first came across this idea from Ray Dalio’s book Principles and would highly recommend that you read this book. Bridgewater Associates which Dalio founded over 40 years ago runs on a radically transparent culture and is the number one hedge fund in the world. The stories in the book are amazing such as junior employees having the openness to tell Ray Dalio that his performance in a meeting was D- and that he was obviously unprepared. There are many organisations where this would be seen as insubordination but not at Bridgewater where honest feedback is valued and required.

This type of culture is not an easy one to follow as it is very different to what many of us know but I believe that it is a very good model to use to promote experimentation. Experimentation requires failure and honest feedback to improve. Where people are punished for failure experimentation is unlikely.

So what steps can you take to move to an idea meritocracy and a radically transparent company culture?

  1. Have an open mind
  2. Learn more about it by reading and studying other companies following this ideology
  3. Discuss this with your team
  4. Implement and know that you will make mistakes and have failures along the way. The important thing to remember is that as long as you are learning from these then you are moving forward

For more information check out this great article by Edward D. Hess that I used when writing this blog.

 

Attention African Startup Founders

Are you a Startup Founder or someone who wants to solve a problem in Africa? If this is you then I want to grab your attention. We are living in the 21st Century and therefore it is important that you take this into account when starting up your venture. Organisations in the 21st century need to use Exponential attributes to ensure success.

I have written about these attributes before and have included a diagram of the elements below for a refresher.

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This image is supplied courtesy of ExO Works

It is vital that you have an MTP as this will ensure that you are working towards a purpose that moves you and is inspiring. If you want to determine what that purpose is you can use the Ikigai to help you.

I highly recommend that you follow these steps when creating a new business:

Step 1: Create an MTP (Massive Transformative Purpose)

Here is a tool to help you do this

Step 2: Create or Join a Community

Physical/Virtual, look at what is out there on Meetup / Eventbrite or others. Remember that you need to offer value before pushing your agenda. Read Jab Jab Jab Right Hook to understand this. BTW check out DIY Drones it is a great example of a community.

Step 3: Build a Team

Most successful startups are 3-4 people in the beginning. The team needs the Visionary/Dreamer; Finance/Business; Programmer/Engineer; User Experience/Design. What is vital is that you all agree on the MTP

Step 4: Create the Breakthrough Idea

Be bold, ask the community, make a difference

Step 5: Build a Business Model Canvas

Here is a tool to help you do this

Step 6: Find a Business Model

Read Kevin Kelly’s Article better than free 8 ways to make money when the base service is free to give you some ideas

Step 7: Build an MVP

Remember that your minimum viable product is just the basics that will solve the problem

Step 8: Validate Marketing and Sales

Use Design thinking and Agile Methodology

Step 9: Implement External Attributes

These are the SCALE Attributes

Step 10: Establish the Culture

It is important to do this when you are small. You can go with an Idea Meritocracy, Holocracy, or your own hybrid but create principles about how you want to run the organisation, this ensures implementation of IDEAS and SCALE.

Step 11: Ask Key Questions Periodically

This is to check you are following the Exponential Organisational method and building what you want to.

Step 12: Build and Maintain a Platform

This will allow for the best use of all the data you collect and build and use the network effect.

I will go into more detail with regards to these steps over time, I highly recommend that you read Exponential Organizations as well as Bold. These are two books that will ignite your mind to the many possibilities and the opportunities when solving massive problems and then how to go about doing that. The framework described here is straight out of Exponential Organizations.

If you find this helpful then share it and comment.