Making Things Better

How you can unlock your teams to build more value

At &us, our team of strategists, designers, and coaches come together to unleash the power of making in organisations, teams, and individuals. We care about helping the very people organisations hire to help them thrive, thrive themselves.

To us, ‘making’ means creating or improving ‘things’ — from product and services to big programmes of work, to internal processes and new ways of working.

It sounds simple but many big organisations struggle to do this well. Sheer complexity encourages a culture of ‘managing’ — constantly planning, updating, and aligning — which gets in the way of actually building value.

It’s no wonder so many big organisations are victims of market disruption. Traditional structures and cultures designed for optimisation, efficiency and risk mitigation are crushing brilliant people’s ability to be creative and to get stuff done at pace.

Your talent can become so frustrated they leave for more nimble organisations, or even worse — stay and add noise to the ‘management’ machine.

All this adds up to inefficiency, ineffectiveness and unhappy people. And ultimately, a loss of potential progress.

So, as leaders, what can we do to turn the tide?

1. Build clear playgrounds

To empower a team to create, we need to stop giving them ideas or strategies to implement, and start giving them clear space to play.

Just as kids play better with a sense of boundaries, your team will come up with more impactful solutions for your customer and for the business if you’re clear about the problem you’re solving, and what good looks like.

2. Dedicate time and attention

In an ideal world, a team would be 100% dedicated to unlocking a problem. Time and time again, our clients dedicate individuals for “10% of their time”, and expect that the work will be innovative, inspiring and impactful.

But what you’re really doing is adding complexity, stress and pressure in an already pressurised system. If the problem is important enough, you need to create the environment for the team to really go at it. That means actually dedicating people’s brains and attention to the endeavour. Even if that’s for a short period of time.

3. Stop meddling

Your role as a leader needs to stop being about controlling risk, demanding updates and ‘managing’, and needs to start being about helping manoeuvre around internal blockers, providing insight and asking smart questions. You need to be thinking about the insight that a team is gathering, and challenging your own biases and expectations to go on the journey with a team.

Returning to a spirit of making is tough, and it needs a lot of dedication, patience, and belief to get it going. But when you do it, and you see how much happier and more productive your teams are, it’s all worth the pain of changing a culture.

If you want to re-invigorate your teams, get them making, and creating more value, then please get in touch with &us. There’s nothing we love more than helping people get back to doing what they do best.