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The importance of measurement online.
Video length: 0:57
Brian MacNeice: So I think there is a couple really important elements to this. Firstly, you’ve got to have good people. So you’ve got to trust that your people are qualified to do what you’re asking them to do. Secondly, they got to be clear about … Well when we are faced with decisions we need to know, what are the parameters against which we are making some of our decisions? The clearer they are about what it is that we’re trying to do and how we’re doing it, the easier it is for them to make decisions deeper into the organization. And then you have a decision-making advantage that kind of really travels through the organization.
So one example that we talk about in the book is the Finnish state school education system, which is one of the best in the world. What Finland has been brilliant at is, one, making sure that their teachers are very highly qualified. Not just in the subject that they’re teaching, but in the actual dynamics of education. So they’re all masters qualified for example in education and education processes. They then give them a very broad base curriculum and they’re not prescriptive about how that curriculum is taught. And so what they then say is that we’ve got highly qualified teachers who know how to educate people and have a broad based curriculum against which they’re operating, now go and figure out what works for your students.
For example, when I was in Finland, I was in one class, a class of nine-year-olds, maths class. In the class, there were three different groups. There was one kid at the back of the class on his own. There was a group of about six or seven kids in the middle of the class working together and two kids in the corridor outside the room working away. I said, “Why have you set them up in this way?” And the teacher said, “Well, the kid at the back really struggles to concentrate if there is a lot of activity going on around him, so he works best on his own. The two kids outside, they like to problem solve but it distracts everybody else so I put them somewhere where they can chat in a very animated way and solve problems, and the other group just work in the traditional way that we would normally work.”
What was really interesting to me was the teachers had the freedom to make those decisions about how I set up the classroom for my students to be able to learn in the best possible environment. That is a great example of decision-making and kind of autonomy, if you like, for people who are very good at what they do, know how to do it and just let them at it.
Grant Leboff: So it’s very interesting because you talk about, obviously got to have good people. That goes without saying, but also there’s a level of transparency in the organization, which allows this to happen as well
Brian MacNeice: Yeah
Grant Leboff: Where everybody understands what the goals are, what the metrics are and everything else. Is that something you found that was key to enable this to happen properly
Yes, it is absolutely key. So if you have people who don’t know what the right decision is on any given thing, then it makes it very hard for them to make decisions and so what you find is they tend to delegate upwards. I’m faced with the decision, I’m not sure what the right answer is, therefore I’m going to ask my immediate superior and that slows everything down. Whereas if people are crystal clear on what, as an organization, we’re trying to achieve, and the alignment against a very small set of key performance indicators that will tell us whether we are on track or not, that frees them up then to make really smart decisions about what is the right thing to do at any point in time. And the more you that you free people up to do that, the more that you release the latent potential in your staff deep, deep down in the organization. That’s where you get the decision-making advantage that high-performing organizations enjoy.
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