Rebekah Kowalski is the VP and Principal Consultant for Strategic Workforce Consulting at Right Management, a ManpowerGroup company.
How to Get Started in the Hollywood Model
In my last post, I asked why the “Hollywood Model” is not being adopted by many organizations. Certainly, most organizations see the value of this approach, and research (such as the very helpful article provided by Dominique Turcq on Horizontal Hierarchy) supports both a cost and efficiency basis for this structure.
Many of my clients feel that they cannot overcome the inertia of their existing organizational structure, but they also recognize (now more than ever) that their ability to transform and lead their industry rests on unleashing human potential. What was once a nice theory has evolved into a necessity.
Still, taking expertise out of silos and putting it where it’s needed is a daunting task, and the question is: where to start? Certainly, very few (if any) organizations can afford to knock down all of their silos at once.
Make an Indie Film…And Change the Mindset
Probably the top institutional barrier to the Hollywood Model is the mindset of leadership. Leadership may agree, in theory, on the value of “horizontal hierarchy,” but will still lead with questions about how it will impact the traditional structure, roles, and responsibilities. Perhaps the best way I’ve seen to change this mindset is to have the leadership team be the “stars” in your company’s “indie film.”
For example, at ManpowerGroup, we took our 120-person global leadership team and assigned them to groups looking at high-risk/high-potential focus areas for our business. What began as an experiment four years ago has become the model for cross-brand, cross-geography collaboration and problem solving. This approach accomplished several things for us:
- It helped us approach and solve real problems by leveraging diverse perspectives;
- It forced collaboration and provided the framework for ongoing collaboration and relationship building;
- Leaders began to model out-of-silo thinking and behavior in order to be considered successful;
- It unearthed key areas of expertise that had been hidden;
- People’s attitude about the initiative shifted, paving the way for us to tackle problems at all levels with this model.
This mode of cross-company, cross-geography working has now become the key way we solve problems and drive innovation in our business. I’ve also seen indie films start in a key geography or business unit and spread from there; the key is to pick a starting place that will have positive, viral impact on your organization.
Make a Crowd Pleaser
The momentum you create in your indie film gives the organization and creates the mindset shift to do something bigger. What you decide to do and how far you go (a romantic comedy or summer blockbuster?) depends on what your business needs to accomplish. The Hollywood Model may not be the way to organize your entire company, but really leveraging the human potential inside of your organization to achieve speed, efficiency, and innovation will require you to at least lower the barriers of your silos.
In addition to thinking about big problems that need to be solved, you might also consider how tasks themselves can be broken down into smaller units that allow you to tap into highly specialized talent and get work done faster. A very useful article on this was co-authored by my colleague, Tammy Johns – SVP Innovation and Workforce Solutions, and could provide some inspiration for you [link to article].
In order to assemble an all-star cast, it will be critical to do the following:
Define the problem: All too often I have seen companies that have no “rallying point” to access the best talent – internally or externally. It is critical to be clear about the problems that need to be solved so that you can a) pinpoint the talent you will need to solve the issue; b) create a mandate in the business for accessing that talent; c) be able to measure results; and d) allow people to build their Employability Profile (more on that in a moment).
Understand Skills: Skills are the cornerstone of being able to identify the talent you need and how the work (the problem) can be broken down. Consider how expertise is defined in your organization. You cannot move to a Hollywood Model without knowing the capabilities and skills of your talent. Traditional skills taxonomies are almost dead on arrival for many of the hottest skills and traditional “catalogues” of talent won’t cut it either – something new is needed. Success Mapping and Employability Profiles will allow you a better way to codify the skills of your talent. The right kind of Success Profile will also better enable you to tap talent external to your organization for more sophisticated collaboration.
Consider New People Practices: Once you have invested in structuring work differently, you need to consider whether the people practices you have in place will provide the right motivation and environment for the people doing the work. This could mean increased flexibility, creative rewards, or transparency to other high profile teams looking to attract the next “star.”
Support with Systems: In addition to the tools we use every day (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) to make our skills visible, many very interesting technologies have come online to support skills transparency. These technologies can create a quite useful transparency inside of your organization and will become very powerful if combined with a mindset shift around how talent is leveraged to get work done.
Direct the Talent: The role of the manager in the Hollywood Model is complex; she is probably in a matrixed role, which could be different next month. She may be directing both internal and external talent (and the external talent could be inclusive of competitors, customers, and freelancers). She will need to be able to create vision and drive collaboration, but still let the talent “have the scene.”
Winning the Oscar
What about you? Where do you think the best place is to begin the Hollywood Model in an organization and what else is critical to experiencing success? I’m particularly curious to know if anyone works for an organization that is mainly organized around this kind of model and what makes it work.