Providing Meaning is key to get Share of Mind

Engagement = “Motiv”-ation = “Meaning”-ation

In my previous post on Enterprise Agility I talked about the challenge of employee engagement. I came across an old Ted from Dan Ariely (watch his TED on What makes us feel good about our work ?)  who  always as passionate, scientific but bang on, really captures the essence on key drivers of engaging people. Enjoy watching the TEd and reading my views/recap.

Industrial world versus knowledge world : Efficiency versus Share of mind
Dan puts it really well that in an industrial worldview, engagement really only used to be measured by physical output : how many bolts per minute do you bolt on. In other words it is all about efficiency. In a knowledge worldview it is really hard to measure “efficiency” : for the same amount of working hours at same competency levels,  outputs between individuals can vary tremendously. The “share of mind” and not efficiency becomes the challenge of engaging people. To engage teams, the “share of collective mindS” becomes critical.

“Meaning” is the mother of all motivation
Dan outlines the massive disengagement effect that arrives when people see that their work really has no impact or they don’t know if it has impact. This is especially a challenge in agile organisations that per definition are changing all the time. Often there is no time to “re-explain” the meaning of the change.

As a leader in charge of engaging an agile team, it becomes critical to provide “meaning” to the work of every individual : does what I do make sense.  What is my ultimate impact. More importantly “Do I believe I have true impact” ?  While so simple as statement, it requires quite a specific focus that many agile organisations lack.

Implementing Meaning is about having a story 
Story telling is at the hart of Leadership. Ira Glass said “Great stories happen to those that can tell them“. We are sometimes tired of talking about mission and vision but today it is still the starting point. But then making the vision and mission come alive in a narrative story that really moves people is another challenge all together.

Implementing Meaning is about translating the story in a “so what for I”.
Decomposing stories into a set of just a couple if clear strategies and then translate these strategies into projects that will impact clear leading and lagging indicators I find the most difficult job of a leader. I personally started to re-use an old methodology called OGSM (Objectives, Goals Strategy and Measures) . It has made my team more focussed, much more inter-depended but more importantly much more able to cascade down to each individual in their respective teams.

Finally, besides Meaning, Dan rightly so refers to other drivers of engagement being i.e.  Pride, Challenge, Ownership and Identity which are great opportunities to talk about it in future posts 😉


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