I got the itch again and will be working on my next book over the next few months. The book is being published by Jossey-Bass and will come out in May 2010.
I’ve included a description, some working titles, and chapter outline with the hope that you will share 1) what issues I’m addressing resonate with you; 2) sources and case studies that you think should be in the book.
My biggest need right now is to figure out the title — the publishing world’s schedule requires that I have a title submitted by the end of this week (I know, it’s crazy, but that’s the way it works!). So I would appreciate it if you would take a minute and respond either via comments which title(s) you like the best.
Description of the book
Talk with your customers. Listen to your employees. These are long-time, well tested truisms of business. But ask a businessperson to engage with people on Facebook or Twitter, or create a forum where employees can connect, and a look of sheer terror crosses his face. Rather than jump at the opportunity to interact, engage, and dialog with customers and employees, s/he runs in the opposite direction.
Why, in the midst of the largest seismic technological and sociological shift our generation, are organizations so hesitant to engage? Companies push back – how open, how transparent, how authentic, and how real do they need to be? The problem is that they are asking only half the question — it’s not just a matter of how open they should be, but also, how comfortable they are giving up control. The new reality is that customers, partners, and employees are demanding that they be given a role in the process and forcing organizations to give up control – or more specifically, the semblance of control.
In this tempest, command-and-control leadership and traditional hierarchical structures are too brittle to deal with fast-moving changes. But there is also a very real limit to how much control a business, organization, or association can give up. This is more than simply being open, authentic, and transparent. It’s a considered and rigorous approach to leadership, strategy, and management that can be studied, emulated, developed, and most importantly, measured.
This book posits that it is essential that the modern organization and the people who run them feel comfortable working in a world where they are not in control — but are able to command and get things done with the very technologies that caused them to give up that sense of control in the first place. The book will lay out a process of how companies can bring their employees, partners, and customers into the process of running the organization, giving them control – and thriving in the process.
Questions The Book Will Address
- What are the benefits of open leadership and open organizations?
- How do you define and measure openness within an organization?
- What are the characteristics of open leaders? How can they be measured?·
- What tools and technologies are enabling open organizations to thrive?
- How can open leaders be identified and developed?
- How do open leaders and open organizations deal with risk?
- What will the future of leadership and organization look like?
You can see the titles I’m considering below. I would love to hear your feedback on what reasonates, as well as othere options I should be considering.
- Open Leadership: How to Give Up Control But Remain in Command
- Letting Go: How Leaders Give Up Control But Remain in Command
- Open Leadership: Why Leaders Who Give Up Control Can Retain Command
- Letting Go: Why Leaders Must Give Up Control To Retain Their Authority
- Leading Without Controlling: The Case For Open Leadership
- Lead Without Limits: Why Leaders Must Give Up Control to Retain Their Authority
- Open Now: How To Give Up Control But Still Be In Command
- Open Now: The Upside Of Giving Up Control
This is a draft outline and is subject to change. I’ve included here with the hope that people will help challenge and improve the ideas, and also provide examples that would be relevant for each chapter.
Part 1: The Upside Of Giving Up Control
Chapter 1: The Challenge Of Social Technologies
Companies are intrigued and excited about the opportunities opened by social technologies. But despite best laid plans, they didn’t have the right organization, cultural and leadership to engage the Groundswell. This is the inevitable democratization of leadership, and it’s not optional. Leadership is about building relationships, and you can’t “control” relationships. Just ask your spouse! What’s required is a new approach to building business relationships, one that is founded on trust but also structured with just enough rules so that things can get done.
Chapter 2: What Giving Up Control Can Do for You
There are five benefits to organizations can realize from being more open: 1) scale to engage with customers and employees; 2) scale to lower costs; 3) speed to market; 4) dealing with complexity; and 5) increasing commitment and loyalty. Each of these can be measured and weighed using existing metrics within an organization.
Chapter 3: What Drives Openness (or Not)
The fundamental question is now how open to be? Three factors determine this: 1) your goals and the benefits you receive from being open; 2) the need of your audience (employees, customers, partners) for you to be open; and 3) the competitive context.
Part 2: The Open Leader
Chapter 4: What an Open Leader Looks Like
Open Leadership is the way a person approaches relationships. It’s a mindset, not the title. Open leadership is something that you may be naturally inclined towards, but it is more importantly something that you decide to do. There are archetypes of leadership, ranging from the Fearful Skeptic to the Realist Optimist. The skills of these open leaders are those of traditional leaders — empathy, humility, inspiring trust. But add to that a new list of skills needed in the newly social world – collaboration, agility, and most importantly, adopting to the culture of sharing to build that trust.
Chapter 5: Create and Apply a Sandbox Covenant
When leaders open up and give up control, they also need to know that things are getting done. The Sandbox Covenant is the process by which the open leader defines how big the “sandbox”, and then in concert with employees, customers, and partners, defines the walls of that sandbox clearly. Leadership doesn’t happen in a vacuum – it’s defined by how you will interact and engage with your employees, customers, and partners.
Chapter 6: Finding And Nurturing Your Open Leaders
A key trait of open leadership is that you develop other open leaders. You may find them in unexpected places, and sometimes you will need to go outside of your organization to find them. These “revolutionaries” will need special development as your organization will not be accommodating of them.
Chapter 7: How to Deal with Risk and Failure
A key part will be how you as a leader deal with the inevitable mistakes and failures people will make. Like any relationship, the mettle of leadership is tested through crisis, even the small, every day ones. The Sandbox Covenant also supports ongoing open leadership, so that it is ingrained into the organization.
Part 3: The Open Organizations
Chapter 8: Redefining the Customer Relationships
How will your relationships with customers change with open leadership? You will not only get closer to them, but the walls of your organization will begin to fade.
Chapter 9: Redefining Employee Relationships
How will you work with newly empowered employees? Everything from how you handle benefits and career planning to how and when you include employees in strategic planning and product development will change.
Chapter 10: Redefining Partner Relationships
Your partners, resellers, and shareholders will require that you be more open about how you work — primarily because they need the information to be better partners.
Chapter 11: The Lifecycle And Future Of Open Organizations
As we’ve seen, just as openness is not an absolute, how open you will be will also change as your goals and circumstances change. New technologies will always be appearing, changing the balance of power, but your open organization needs to have the resilience to adapt quickly. The organization of the future will look and function very different from today’s hierarchical structures — that’s because they will be built for the organic, open way that people work and get things done.