– DIGITAL COLLABORATION & REMOTE GUIDE
Put in the time, principles drive the behaviors which serve as the foundation for your
Habits are fractal, occurring at individual, team, and organizational levels. At their
foundation, organizational habits are changed by individual behaviors.
Behavior change is hard, which is a silver lining in a crisis like this- we find ourselves
thrust into new conditions where running the old programs is unsustainable.
What we call complacency is often a reflection of organizational habits (an
accumulation of individual and team habits) unchecked by systems of work that have
eroded over time into paths of least resistance.
Which is fine, until it’s not. We’ve all been disrupted by COVID-19, in many cases forced
into new ways of working. Our old habits- individual and organizational- are rightly
challenged to adapt. Traditional business models have long been the sacred cow, one
that now point blank faces its shortcomings in how it has or has not promoted cross-
functional teamwork, customer focus, autonomy and agility. We reap what we sow.
The paradox of the crisis may be that the distance brings us closer. Closer to
understanding what is critical and what is superfluous, as individual contributors,
teams and organizations in service to our customers.
There are a lot of moving parts in the process of discovering, developing and delivering
value to your customers. Working within a shared understanding of the guiding
principles, your current systems will naturally reform and reinvent themselves to
support your suppliers, teams and customers in unimaginable new ways.
If your current business model is not designed to support and sustain the impact of
quarantine (if you’re experiencing disruption), use this guide and leverage this situation
to reshape the way you operate.
Working ‘backward’ from the point of delivery to your customer reveals the critical path
to the exchange of that value. In situations where the system is strained, you learn the difference between “need to” and “nice to,” shifting paradigms to put the customer’s
This disruption in routines we’re all experiencing will expose where your existing ways
of working (processes, policies, procedures) have inserted bureaucracy and ‘waste’
(disruption in the flow costing time, money or rework), or where your organization
inadvertently hasn’t put the customer first.
Rather than taking weeks to socialize and craft a declaration of principles, simply living
them through your choices and actions will communicate them more impactfully than
word-smithing ever could.
Decisive actions inherently communicate priorities which, when at the service of the
customers, team and organization will organically cross-pollinate and permeate all
aspects of the work, forming new cultural norms. Actions speak.
Current gaps between your proclaimed organizational principles and the actions of your
employees can be traced directly back to the systems of work and management within
New behaviors are forming anyway- you can shape them, or they can shape the future
of your organization.
How leaders use mechanisms (tools, frameworks and systems) and leverage
experiments to make decisions are the actions that model, shape, build and consistently
reinforce the key behaviors supporting the guiding principles.
To review, principles are not top-down mandates, deployed by management. Rather
they are shaped over time through actions and priorities with the feedback loops that
come with dialogue.
Principles don’t exist in a vacuum, they have a context and relationship within the
ecosystem of your company. To separate principles from values, habits and behaviors is
to look at a single facet. Rather let’s practice system thinking, look at the whole, and
recognize principles are a means to an end.
The end in mind (with a nod to Stephen Covey’s timeless work on habits) is cultivating
the individual and organizational behaviors that will deliver superior value.
Here are a few key behaviors to foster that will enrich your ability to bear fruitful remote
Simple as it is, practice the golden rule, prioritize people over process & performance,
give one another the benefit of the doubt: in every situation, teach or learn.
Let people know what is at stake, what is important, how their actions impact the bigger
picture, where things are headed, how decisions are made, at all levels – always show
Respect is not only deference, it is also understood as holding one another to a higher
standard- gently challenging all to think and act at our highest levels, with humility and
a growth mindset.
Finding the harmony in working independently together.
Invite a difference of opinion, experience and perspective as a fortification of greater
understanding. Use one another’s knowledge to (in)validate what you think you know.
Culture exists because of differences- they are essential to our strength. Detach from
the answer and learn to ask the question.
(Operate within the ecosystem as a part of a greater, living whole. Understand how,
why, when, and in what measure your function supports the greater purpose. Recognize
that in order to live in the market, your company survives and adapts, necessitating a
constant assessment of and adjustment to the demands of that survival.)
Demonstrating these is infinitely more useful than describing them (the map is not the
land). Tune in to where these characteristics show up and where they need to, and
incentivize these behaviors in the outcomes prioritized (we’ll dive into this next) and
expectations you hold of one another.
Integrity between your actions and words will matter as you model, seek out and
highlight these attributes in your team. I once heard a leader explain that ‘transparency
was really NOT giving someone the whole landscape, because they would be
overwhelmed by options.’ That’s only a problem in an unprincipled, hierarchical,
Principles act as a homing device, a compass to help every team navigate complexity, to
discover, align to the customer’s needs, and deliver the value they bring.
As your organization is seeking its new rhythms in this time of disruption, seize the
opportunity to shape new behaviors. Through your own actions and those you recognize
and reward in others, guiding principles will resonate and quickly pollinate across the
company. This is the first key to forming a successful digital remote culture- it begins