Becoming partners was the best thing that happened to us at KETC when we started out a year ago to find out how to connect to our city in a deeper way.
KETC, like most organizations over a size, had devolved into silos. Each department all did their stuff but had little to say to each other and most issues were settled in the President's office. Sound familiar?
One of our many ahas was that if we were to partner with anyone else, we had better get better at this inside. After all the work that we were doing could not be easily compartmentalized. We simply had to work better with each other and we could not have our CEO in all our meetings.
Lots of people say that they want to get rid of silos. That they want to devolve power. But they fail and the silos remain.
We found that having a project that demanded that we all participate. That was so complex that no one could lead. That was so time compressed that we had to find the answers to all these unknowns now. Was the crucible that enabled us to break down these walls.
Central to this was our using classic project management. We did not try and fit this into the normal management process of the organization. The silos would have defeated us. Not could we rely on the CEO to make us cooperate.
So we met every day for 30 minutes at the start of the day. We met every day for 5 months. It was like a family having dinner at night every night. Over time, the walls lowered, the trust built, there was more laughter and more work got done. We amazed ourselves at how much we could do as a little team. At first Jack was in all the meetings. Then over time he would skip a few. Then we hardly saw him. He was out doing CEO work and we did our work of making stuff happen daily.
We found that having a project manager who was not a senior person helped immensely. The project track kept us directed. Being junior, he also had to use humour and self effacement to maintain his authority. This was not your usual meeting. There was so much to do that we could ask for help and not feel a loser. There was so much we did not know that we could say that we did not know and it would be ok.
It helped that we had a project that was overwhelming in scale and complexity. It was a bit like being a new parent. Suddenly we had to pitch in and help each other and no one was the expert. We all had to learn from each other. We learned things about each other that we would never have learned when we were all in our boxes.
My hope is that many others who are now going to do this in the next Mortgage Crisis project will have the same experience. I really recommend using this as an opportunity to change they way you all work with each other as we did.
KETC has become a very special place. You can become that too. You don't believe me that we are different from what we were?
Here is our introduction video to our new partners - I think that you can get the feeling of what KETC has become as you see us.