A short lesson on the modern history of Poland. In the days of communism and Solidarity, Jacek Kuroń understood that you can’t fight force (regime’s police & army) with force alone (violent strikes). He suggested another approach that is well summarized by this quote:
“Don’t burn existing committees – build your own ones”.Jacek Kuroń
The situation I’m talking about bears no relevance to the dark times of communism, but the idea – that we should rather build upon existing solutions instead of raging against them – is very precious to me.
Let me give you two examples of such an approach.
At Allegro we regularly check the engagement by conducting a company wide survey. It contains many questions and I’m pretty sure it gives the HR a lot of interesting data, food for thoughts (and/or headaches). It also brings some value to me and my leaders as it tackles the topics like management, collaboration and organizational culture. However, we quickly found out that while it gives us a lot of information, it is not good enough to let us understand what are the most pressing matters that we should solve in our own, tiny corpo-bubble. So, every time we fill up this company survey we also answer a set of our own questions.
These additional questions we ask are tailored to our needs and allow us to pinpoint issues specific to our small corpo-homeland. We tackle:
- topics, that we feel might be interesting (based on gut feeling and/or recent hot topics),
- topics that we asked about in previous edition(s), so we could observe the trend
- a special case of above is the topics we previously created some action points for, and we really, really want to see if by doing them we improved anything.
And this works very well for us. Every time we gather to discuss the answers of both surveys we come with some valuable action points. The actions we take are usually related to the questions asked in our own survey (well, that is not a surprise).
Similarly, there is a company-wide recognition program which allows everyone to put up a candidate who should be awarded. It is fun and all, but unfortunately due to some constraints there is almost no chance for people from my teams to get awarded (even if they deserve it!). That was raising some irritation among us. So we decided to create our own, local, recognition program. We give symbolic gifts and praise our colleagues during our quarterly integration meetings. And you know what – it just works!
The pattern we observe here is very simple. There is this “big something” created by company policies that serves us to some extent but doesn’t fulfill all our needs. We copy it to create something similar (but better) and we all live happily ever after.
After writing this post I’ve found this short snippet that reminds me of Jacek Kuroń’s philosophy of action:
Gandhi was a big fan of what he called the “constructive program”, which means not to only campaigning against what we don’t want, but also building the alternative that we do want.Climate Resistance Handbook, Daniel Hunter