"Pull Management" vs. "Push Management" systems (v1.0)

Are we working harder, under more pressure, but running in place?

The internet has changed business – in helpful and challenging ways:
* We have more information and metrics – and more confusion from all the clutter.
* We can develop and deploy products faster – far beyond our clients’ ability to absorb them.
* We can find prospects more easily – but they’re less interested in talking with us.
* We have more forecasting tools – but less predictability.
* We work harder – but not as hard as the scrappy firms in India and China.

I’ve worked with, mentored and observed dozens of companies over the past couple of years. It’s not uncommon for the double whammy of clutter and pressure to make companies and people so busy that they can’t get anything done!

The brute force methods that used to work so well, such as “work harder,” “hire more,” “spend more” aren’t true strategic or competitive advantages. Anyone can work hard, hire people and raise more money.

It’s time to start taking regular breaths to reflect on what we’re missing – there is a better way to increase growth more productively. From my point of view, the most impactful thing a CEO can do to increase sustainable growth than to move towards a pull management system and away from a push management system.

How can a CEO create an environment that helps the company to grow itself faster by unlocking the motivation of its people in an environment of trust, transparency and alignment? Can a CEO spend 95%+ of their time enjoyably surfing the flow of growing a company, rather than feeling sometimes like they’re paddling against the waves?

Push v Pull Management

Note that companies are not pull OR push…there would be a sliding scale (such as 70/30 push/pull)

Push System
* The CEO actively works to motivate (push) people.
* Work is usually exhausting.
* The company does not trust employees, who must be monitored and pushed to do more.
* The company culture is pressured, competitive, political.
* The executive team and board come up with the vision and goals and push these out to the company.
* Goal setting and tracking metrics take up 80% of the attention; prioritization of projects and goals is 20%.
* The executive team then pushes the employees to hit those goals on a quarterly or monthly drumbeat.
* Mistakes are punished.
* Burnout is common.
* Does not require much time from management. High rates of internal confusion or mis-alignment are acceptable.

Pull System
* The CEO actively works to create an environment that unlocks people’s inherent motivation (their own motivation “pulls” them to sustainably achieve).
* Work is usually energizing.
* The company culture is enjoyable, nurturing, collaborative.
* The company trusts employees to pull what they need from management (advice, information, help) as necessary.
* All employees have an opportunity to include their voice/feedback in company goals and priorities.
*  The executive team and managers work to maintain constant clarity alignment across the company, even on a weekly drumbeat.
* Every employee has transparent access to (or feeds to) updates on the company’s priorities and goals, so they remain in a constant state of alignment.
* EVERY mistake is a learning opportunity to improve something.
* No burnout – employees, through conversations with their peers, have total discretion in how and when they can take time off.
* Requires more investment of time by management, but much more productive (like the Toyota Production System).

Next step? Continuing the CEO discussion

Shoot me an email if this is something that resonates and you want to participate now or in the future in this conversation: aaron(at)pebblestorm(dot)com.

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