Systems of Employee Engagement - Are we acting like fossils?

Is it possible that living in the most highly connected, wired and always-on world, we persist with processes and business customs that were “current” at the turn of the last century?  (no, we mean 1900 not 2000)

Geoffrey Moore used the term “Systems of engagement” to describe how employees communicate with one another, which he believes is driven by technology in new ways.    Gary Hamel suggested that the industrial age has reached its limits of improvement.

What does this mean for today’s worker engagement and quality organizations?

Just listen to a recent real-life discussion at a major healthcare organization in the context of driving real improvement in engagement and quality:

Manager 1

“I don’t get to spend enough time with top leaders.  The organization has grown so large that I no longer have the access I had, and I feel I can’t share my big ideas about ways to improve.”

Manager 2

“We have employee engagement surveys, but they’re too infrequent, the information is dated and the working groups change by the time we can see the results.  We want to work on “continual improvement” but our information won’t support this.  We’re stuck. “

Individual contributor 1

“Why do we have to have infrequent surveys that have stale questions?  Why can’t we collaborate on the questions, conduct shorter surveys more often, and use technology more effectively?”

What are some of the take-aways from this discussion?

a)     Workers, managers and customers have a common interest in driving better quality, better employee engagement and better methods of feedback.

b)     All parties recognize the value of more current, (optimally something closer to real-time) information to drive continual improvement efforts

c)     It is widely recognized that the current feedback “systems” are broken, outdated and provide stale and relatively non-actionable data.

It’s not all bad news.

Survey 2.0 and WorkersCount is inside these meetings with daily feedback from workers and customers, using mobile technology and friendly, simple check-in style behavior.

Look out Geoffrey Moore, we’re about to leverage small technology (phones and tablets) to drive big changes in the “systems of engagement” across groups of workers, managers and customers in real-time.  It’s about time we started acting like it’s 2013 and not 1913.  Fossils?  No more.

And for Gary Hamel and having reached the limits of the industrial age’s improvements?  We think he is spot-on.  We’re moving on to what’s possible with the tools and behavioral customs in our new digital and mobile age.  Lots of room here.  

More like a wide open road.

What do you think?