Culture and Needs

Thank you to Bob Marshall for inspiring me to write about needs with his work on the Anti-Matter principle. I feel a sense of sorrow when I read the anti-matter posts as I get a strong sense that Bobs needs have not been met. Also, that he may not have met the needs of others and that satisfying the needs of others might be a bit of a revelation to him. Its a hypothesis and I would be delighted if someone could show I was wrong.

When we go to work I feel that there are several different groups who’s needs need to be met. In no particular order, those groups are:

  • Employees (my colleagues) from the CEO all the way down
  • Employee’s family and friends.
  • Customers.
  • Providers and Suppliers.
  • Investors in the organisation.
  • The community in which the organisation exists.
  • The environment.

In order for an organisation to have a long term healthy and viable future, all of these needs have to be in balance.

For customers, the focus is on user experience, but sadly that is often only the case in situations where users have choice. In user experience, we talk about “user needs”, “jobs to be done” and “job stories” to reflect needs. Some much loved companies focus on their customers at the expense of other groups. For example Apple is famous for being focused on the needs of its customers but not the needs of its employees (especially those working for suppliers in China).

Some organisations focus on the needs of the “shiny” employees. Classic examples include Hollywood Studios, Premier League Football and Investment Banking. This is at the expense of the Customer, other Employees, Investors and the Community.

The needs of the organisation (investors) are often expressed in the form of business value.

My point is that needs are quite well understood. Its just we don’t just always call them needs.

Quite often, when we talk about needs, the group we feel gets ignored is the employee. And normally we mean ourselves.

In a risk averse culture, the organisation and its management/leadership will quite happily ignore risk. This is often evidenced because they ignore the needs of one or more groups. In a risk managed culture, the organisation and its management/leadership will always be on the look out for new risks. It will then ensure that those risks are managed in the most appropriate manner (including monitoring them but not acting). In a risk managed culture, you make sure that the needs of the different groups are balanced according to the context.

As an IT Risk Manager you know that the most significant source of risk arising out of your teams come from the individuals, relationships and groups. As an IT Risk Manager you understand that the best way to manage those risks is ensure the individuals, relationships and groups under your care are as healthy as possible. It is important to know the people you work with well enough to know that their needs are met, otherwise there is a risk that they will be become ill, or their relationships will suffer. You have to care about your colleagues. Personally, I find the best way to care is to first get people out of the office, and then share with them as they share with me. In other words, put them in an environment where they feel human and then treat them like a human rather than a colleague, or an employee, or a boss, or a subordinate. For this, I am eternally grateful for the numerous coffee and tea houses around London.As for my needs… I write this blog to share my experiences and ideas. My needs are met when people show appreciation, or challenge me with feedback that is useful to help me learn and evolve my thinking so that I can better meet my own and other’s needs. My needs are not met when I receive negative feedback that provides no guidance or insight to help me improve. I consider those that judge harshly or make cruel comments without providing useful feedback to be Internet Trolls. After a pattern of behaviour I tend to ignore those individuals. Does this post meet your needs?

About theitriskmanager

Currently an “engineering performance coach” because “transformation” and “Agile” are now toxic. In the past, “Transformation lead”, “Agile Coach”, “Programme Manager”, “Project Manager”, “Business Analyst”, and “Developer”. Did some stuff with the Agile Community. Put the “Given” into “Given-When-Then”. Discovered “Real Options” View all posts by theitriskmanager

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