The Readout – Simon Sinek on how KPIs killed the culture

We started with what.
It’s not that KPIs are a mistake, it’s just that they so often mistakenly measure what doesn’t really matter. They can prize performance over trust. And star performers with low trust are more corrosive to healthy teams and a strong culture over time than average to good performers with high trust.

Simon Sinek put it better:

 

“Culture equals values plus behaviour.”

“Go to any team, ask them who the asshole is, and they all point to the same person. But equally so it’s easy to find the great, natural leader. If you say ‘who has your back all the time? Who do you trust when the chips are down?’ They will all point to the same person and it may not be the highest performer’”

“How do you measure if your mother loves you? You know she does”

We moved onto when.
There is something worse than arbitrary about six and 12 month appraisals. Often the objective for a business is shorter term. Or the interests of the company and the society it serves are longer term. It reinforces the self-defeating culture of the finite game, it loses sight of the infinite game.

Simon Sinek can explain:

 

“There are two types of games, finite games and infinite games. A finite game is defined as known players, fixed rules, agreed upon objectives: football. There’s always a beginning, a middle and an end. An infinite game is defined as known and unknown players, the rules are changeable – you can play it however you want – and the objective is not to win but to perpetuate the game. This is interesting because so many things in our lives are infinite, like marriage – you can’t win marriage. You can’t win business.”

So if we play in an infinite game like business with a finite mindset – to play to win – there’s a few very consistent and predictable outcomes: the decline of trust, the decline of operation, the decline of innovation and, of course, the eventual demise of the organisation.

And we ended up with who.
Culture in companies is not, at the start, democratic. More often than not, it begins with the behaviour and values of its founders. It is, though, up to the people in it today to maintain and modernise it. And one of the changes in the world of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is that they’re no longer always set top down, but by and for the teams themselves and with an eye not just to product performance but social impact, too.

Simon Sinek on leaders:

 

“We don’t have to have a vision, we have to find one.”

“Leaders are not responsible for the results. Leaders are responsible for the people, who are responsible for the results.”

Much more was said. We are just beginning to reimagine corporate cultures, to understand what’s needed for our work to be socially responsible and personally meaningful. If it was your first ThinkIn, I hope you found it was in the spirit of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s observation that, in the office just like school, there are ‘know-it-alls’ and ‘learn-it-alls’ and you’re better off being a ‘learn-it-all’.

Next Tuesday evening we’re trying to understand how 5G actually works and, beyond smart chatty fridges, what the Internet of Things will mean with Ronan Dunne, CEO of Verizon Consumer; over breakfast on the following Monday 17th June, we’re trying to get to grips with how the White House really operates with Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Obama.

We’re wannabe learn-it-alls. With a lot to learn. Do join us.

 

James Harding
Editor & Co-Founder

The Readout – Simon Sinek on how KPIs killed the culture

We started with what.
It’s not that KPIs are a mistake, it’s just that they so often mistakenly measure what doesn’t really matter. They can prize performance over trust. And star performers with low trust are more corrosive to healthy teams and a strong culture over time than average to good performers with high trust.

Simon Sinek put it better:

 

“Culture equals values plus behaviour.”

“Go to any team, ask them who the asshole is, and they all point to the same person. But equally so it’s easy to find the great, natural leader. If you say ‘who has your back all the time? Who do you trust when the chips are down?’ They will all point to the same person and it may not be the highest performer’”

“How do you measure if your mother loves you? You know she does”

We moved onto when.
There is something worse than arbitrary about six and 12 month appraisals. Often the objective for a business is shorter term. Or the interests of the company and the society it serves are longer term. It reinforces the self-defeating culture of the finite game, it loses sight of the infinite game.

Simon Sinek can explain:

 

“There are two types of games, finite games and infinite games. A finite game is defined as known players, fixed rules, agreed upon objectives: football. There’s always a beginning, a middle and an end. An infinite game is defined as known and unknown players, the rules are changeable – you can play it however you want – and the objective is not to win but to perpetuate the game. This is interesting because so many things in our lives are infinite, like marriage – you can’t win marriage. You can’t win business.”

So if we play in an infinite game like business with a finite mindset – to play to win – there’s a few very consistent and predictable outcomes: the decline of trust, the decline of operation, the decline of innovation and, of course, the eventual demise of the organisation.

And we ended up with who.
Culture in companies is not, at the start, democratic. More often than not, it begins with the behaviour and values of its founders. It is, though, up to the people in it today to maintain and modernise it. And one of the changes in the world of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is that they’re no longer always set top down, but by and for the teams themselves and with an eye not just to product performance but social impact, too.

Simon Sinek on leaders:

 

“We don’t have to have a vision, we have to find one.”

“Leaders are not responsible for the results. Leaders are responsible for the people, who are responsible for the results.”

Much more was said. We are just beginning to reimagine corporate cultures, to understand what’s needed for our work to be socially responsible and personally meaningful. If it was your first ThinkIn, I hope you found it was in the spirit of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s observation that, in the office just like school, there are ‘know-it-alls’ and ‘learn-it-alls’ and you’re better off being a ‘learn-it-all’.

Next Tuesday evening we’re trying to understand how 5G actually works and, beyond smart chatty fridges, what the Internet of Things will mean with Ronan Dunne, CEO of Verizon Consumer; over breakfast on the following Monday 17th June, we’re trying to get to grips with how the White House really operates with Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Obama.

We’re wannabe learn-it-alls. With a lot to learn. Do join us.

 

James Harding
Editor & Co-Founder

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