January 18, 2010
Yesterday I was standing in my living room cheering. Not at the football game, but at the New York Times’ “Corner Office” Q&A, where SunGard president CEO Crist0bal Conde was saying things like this:
In flat organizations, the key to creating a meritocracy is to “allow employees to develop a name for themselves that is irrespective of their organizational ranking. Recognition from their peers is an extremely strong motivating factor, and something that is broadly unused in modern management.”
How is that done? “One thing we use is a Twitter-like system on our intranet called Yammer. By having technologies that allow people to see what others are doing, share information, collaborate, brag about their successes—that is what flattens the organization. … By creating an atmosphere of collaboration, the people who are consistently right get a huge following, and their work product is talked about by people they’ve never met. It’s fascinating.”
Conde uses Yammer himself, to share messages from the clients he meets. “I can write five lines on Yammer, which is about all it takes: “Look, this is one of our largest clients, and the CEO just told me his top three priorities are X, Y and Z. Think about them.”
He doesn’t spend time talking with his direct reports, because he thinks he can do more good talking to people “two and three levels below.” He takes them on client visits, and talks to them on the way. “Let’s say we’re in the subway or a taxi. The rep is getting ready for this meeting. What the rep is not ready for is all my questions about the organization. And they tell me the first thing that is on their mind, which is incredibly valuable.”
Their answers to his questions about what they’d change about SunGard give let him build “a giant mosaic about what [the] organization really looks like, and people respect that.”
Well, I sure do, anyway.