more like people

helping organisations to be more like people

More Like People Action Week! (#MoreLikePeopleWeek)

August 20-24 is ‘More Like People Action Week’. Your chance to find something you can do to make your organisation a bit ‘more like people’ and share it with the world. Nothing is too small. Change happens when we start anywhere, follow it everywhere!’

Today I got a simple Twitter message with a great idea from my friend and colleague Paul Barasi (@PaulBarasi). It read:

“Mon-Fri is #MoreLikePeople #ActionWeek. Individuals do 1 small thing 2 make their org more human.”

Twitterfall, Qatar

Can you set up a TwitterFall at an event to broaden participation?

…And with that, the first ever ‘More Like People Action Week’ was born!

So whether you’re staff, manager or director, working nationally or locally, in a public, voluntary or private sector organisation, why not start the week by thinking:

“What would my organisation look like if it became More Like People?”

“What can I do now to help make it more human?”

There are a few ideas further down, but basically…

What you do is up to you!

You might scrap a policy, change how you act in a certain context or relationship, involve more people in more decisions, try altering the way you do a particular piece of work… you might just ask more people you work with what they’d like to do, and let everyone give it a shot!

And when you do it, let the world know!

If you Tweet about your action using the #MoreLikePeopleWeek hashtag, anyone else can see what you’ve done and might get inspired to try it themselves. If you’re not on Twitter, feel free to add it as a comment at the bottom of this post, for all to see and learn from…

More Like People – what’s that about?

‘More like people’ is about learning to do things in our organisations, more like we’d do them at the pub, in our living rooms, at the park, around a kitchen table… It’s about:

  • Dropping the systems, attitudes, behaviours, and structures of the ‘professional’ world, and reconnecting with a more natural way of organising that predates any of our bureaucracies.
  • Improving working cultures by bringing the values, personalities, strengths and abilities of the people in our organisation to the forefront.
  • Closing the gap between the mask we wear at work and who we really are, because we’re at our best when we’re being ourselves.

‘More like people’ might apply to your own behaviours, maybe listening more closely to someone you’ve had trouble communicating with, choosing to hold a meeting in the park, or a pub, involving more people with valuable opinions when you make decisions…

‘More like people’ might apply to organisational structures or policies, which could mean getting rid of meeting agendas and letting them flow as people raise what they need to, crowd-sourcing decisions across the office, or via Twitter amongst a wider range of people involved in your work, letting staff make up their own job titles, or write joint job descriptions together as a team, making organisational learning public, so others people and organisations can learn from it…

These are just a few ideas to get you started. The point is, you’ll know better than Paul or I will what ‘more like people’ means in your context… but if you try it and share it, someone else might be able to try it out at their office too!

Have fun! (If it’s not fun, think about what might make it that way…)

Liam (@hackofalltrades)


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Posted in events and flexibility and leadership + management and learning and professionalism and social technology and trust.

10 comments

10 Replies

  1. Lorna Prescott Aug 20th 2012

    Hi Liam
    I hope that I already strive to make my organisation More Like People, and we have a Chief Officer who has this general approach. I have meetings in independent coffee shops, I think we all to one extent or another involve and value people for their strengths. I’ve been trying to work more collaboratively with a colleague who I’ve struggled with previously. And thankfully I don’t think I wear a mask at work/when working – I try to be authentic, I love what I do and find it increasingly difficult to separate what other might call ‘life’ and ‘work’ – it’s all just stuff I do. Perhaps all is easier for someone who broadly considers their ‘occupation’ to be community development – I try to bring community development values to everything, such as learning together, challenging prejudice etc.
    I won’t actually be with anyone from my own organisation during this #MoreLikePeopleWeek (leave and out of office meetings) however the idea of it has consolidated some thinking I have for work I’m planning with young people on Friday. I won’t be taking any consultation tool type activities to find out what they want in their area, they will all be at a music event organised by the youth club, I will just go and talk to them – like a person!!!
    Hope the week goes well, I’ll be contributing 🙂

  2. Hi again
    Just caught the discussion you and @PaulBarasi have just had on twitter, re people saying they are mulling over #MoreLikePeopleWeek to figure out next steps, and you and Paul saying people should just jump in. I wholeheartedly agree, and I think it highlights the very problem you are writing about Liam. I suspect many are thinking about it because they are part of organisations, it is organisational thinking, not people thinking.
    It didn’t take me long to figure out what I’m doing this week that I can tweet about for #MoreLikePeopleWeek, I have been on leave for the first two days of the week, so ready to really get sharing tomorrow. I’d really like to encourage anyone reading this to just identify perhaps one little, seemingly insignificant thing they have done or plan to do which they can share as part of #MoreLikePeopleWeek. I don’t think it should require much thinking. Today I texted a colleague from another organisation who is off sick and won’t make a meeting with me tomorrow. Part of her reply: “Thanks for the txt & for caring. It means more than u could know” … now surely that is More Like People? And I have no doubt that lovely things are being prompted by lots of people everywhere, I can’t wait to hear about them.
    This idea is reminding me a little of Danny Wallace’s Random Acts of Kindness /Karma Army (see http://www.join-me.co.uk/about/ and http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/203266.Random_Acts_of_Kindness) – you really need to read Join Me for it to make any sense at all, it’s a lovely read.
    I’ve decided that my most like people act of today was tweeting a few fantastic folk following a brilliant email to let them know that I was literally leaping around the house in excitement! I don’t think leaping is a behaviour of the ‘professional’ world, unless you happen to be a professional dancer (which I’m not!).
    I’m really getting in to #MoreLikePeopleWeek, it’s a good prompt to give things attention in a different way. Thank you.

  3. Isn’t this a backlash against the bullying culture that became so prevalent in the workplace during the late 1990s and which seems to have endured in many organisations? I know of more than one person whose working life was made hell. To my mind, it is a matter of politeness and kindness – good manners, in other words. Is it so difficult to include please as a default suffix to an instruction or thank you for a task completed? It brings its own rewards. Human nature makes us want to do our best for those we like whom we feel care about us in return. I don’t mean to imply that every working day at our place is a carnival but sometimes one has to go with the flow and flexibility and professionalism are not mutually exclusive. A sense of humour is as essential as broadband! The nicest thing ever said to me by an underpaid but happy graduate colleague was that she loved her job; it was ‘such fun’.

  4. Like this idea too. As one who has to wear a corporate thinking hat professionally, I believe that right thinking in right place at right time is a key driver. A big issue with many mechanised, standard practices is that people seem to apply them too rigidly and sometimes stop using their own common sense. For a long time I have regarded standards as models and guidelines that do need to be over-ruled when it is apparent that it is sensible to do so. It has not got me into trouble yet, and I am past retirement age! People do still need to own, understand and adapt the processes around them because the circumstances and environment don’t remain fixed

  5. Hi Lorna –
    I really like the ‘it’s all just stuff I do’ comment – I think ‘work-life balance’ has mostly arisen from the idea that work is shit… if it isn’t, why should it be any different from any other thing you do, as long as you do have some mix of things (I think ‘variety’ is an important MLP idea, whether in ‘work’ or in life, more generally).

    Also – really, really agree w/ the ‘don’t overthink it’ point! I get the impression a number of people who initially engaged this week did just that… It’s easy to feel like thinking its not worth sharing something, unless it is TRULY AMAZING, but there are far more ‘a bit better’ solutions that could probably, between them, go a lot further to ‘helping orgs be more like people!’ I really dug your many little acts this week and truly believe this is where we have the greatest power to affect change, even if it doesn’t happen all-at-once most of the time…

    And always take an opportunity to leap around the office! 🙂

    Liam

  6. Hi Jay –

    I see it as broader than just the bullying culture, but more broadly part of the ‘industrial mindset’ that has permeated most organisations in all sectors since the 1800s. By viewing the world, and our organisations, as machines, as Henry Ford and so many others were famous for doing, we set in motion a lot of very destructive patterns. We divide everything into parts, but lose sight of the whole. We believe each process can be ‘optimised,’ ignoring the subjective roles of the people involved, and influence of the changing environments we exist in. We treat eachother as cogs that do as they are told, and create rules for everything, in the hopeless attempt that they will make everything uniform…

    Inevitably, this ‘scientific management’ of the Industrial Revolution created a lot of bullying, elitism, and terrible working dynamics.

    Countless charities and large NGOs have been pushed by govt to ‘professionalise’ in recent decades, adopting these sorts of systems, often at the expense of their explicit core values and reasons for being…

    I think politeness – as long as it leaves room for constructive challenge and confrontation – is definitely a part of the solution, but also think there are a range of system (upward accountability, hierarchical decision-making, etc) that make these ‘less like people’ systems the norm, unless people are willing to stick their necks out and actively challenge them.

    And yes, work *should absolutely* be fun! 🙂

    Thanks for your thoughts!

    Liam

  7. Hi June –

    Thanks for the thoughts!

    The problem I find with standards, is that they tend to box us in, even at a subconscious level, to not thinking creatively about how we solve problems. This is often done in the name of ‘not reinventing the wheel’ as much (or even most) of the time, people may well come up with the same answers, if left to their own devices. However, the creative process, even if it is ‘reinventing the wheel’ also offers us the potential to understand subjectivity and context, and to see the world very differently than if we are just following a recipe.

    I’ve often found orgs telling themselves that their rules are simply guidelines, but in practice, especially when combined with disciplinary methods when someone doesn’t follow them and it isn’t a total success, mean that they become straight-jackets for many, particularly those closest to the frontlines.

    Any top tips on encouraging people to override standards, in the face of hierarchy?

    Thanks for contributing!

    Liam


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More Like People is an association of freelance consultants, facilitators and trainers, working primarily in the voluntary, community and campaigning sectors in the the UK and elsewhere.