When a worker on a Toyota production line needs more parts he or she knows the name of the person supplying those parts to them. Why is this important? Because humans rarely want to let each other down.
Transparency equals responsibility, since it’s hard to ignore people we know. This is why a team of teams organization structure is so powerful if you want to move quickly and avoid bottlenecks.
A worker in a matrix organization can easily lose a sense of responsibility since their work is disconnected and isolated. They will feel faceless and nameless become the less motivated the more fungible they feel they are.
We all want to feel unique and valued no matter how routine the work we are doing is. We also don’t want to let our friends down.
When my work is visible to my team and when I also know them – and hopefully like them – I’ll be far less likely to let them down.
Conversation and loose social connections are often more accurate ways to track work than any data-base, process or tool ever could be.
Conversation between people working in a system is also the best way to improve that system’s performance. As renowned researcher on human connection, Brené Brown, notes says “it’s hard to hate someone up close.”
For complex, creative work – the kind of work that’s the most economically important today – small, independent, cross-functional teams are the best way to bake accountability and speed into your organizations.
These teams should meet regularly to update each other on progress and signal to each other if anyone needs support.
The goal is to create a shared information landscape where everyone is knows roughly what everyone else is doing, how they are feeling, and what they need to be successful.
This creates a foundation for trust and psychological safety to develop, problems to be solved, and the team to stay motivated and productive.