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Tapping Into Your Company’s Hive Mind

When your team takes time to focus on key areas in the business, amazing things can happen.

Solving problems with the company's hive mind
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We tried something crazy this week at Livewire. In our hyper labor utilization obsessed company, we decided to dedicate an entire hour to committee meetings and made attendance mandatory for all employees. The macro thinking on this effort hypothesizes that amazing results will come from intentionally tapping into the minds of 30-plus people for one hour, once a month. Everyone in the company was given one of three committee options:

  1. Project Review: Dedicated to after-action reviews of jobs that went sideways in an effort to engineer better results down the road.
  2. Ownership Thinking: Continuously running multiple “Rapid Improvement Plans” oriented around eliminating waste and funding incentive plans the whole company participates in.
  3. Culture Club: Focuses on the beating heart of the organization and makes sure we’re playing as hard as we work with a big emphasis on togetherness and reinforcing our core values.

Membership in these committees was previously voluntary and saw early adoption with the participants skewing heavily toward employees without prescriptive roles. This served to further reinforce the divide between our hourly and salaried employees. That all changed when Ashton Hassan, project manager extraordinaire, suggested we schedule these committee sessions to follow our monthly all-hands meetings so we could schedule the start of field work later in the day.

Our leadership team outvoted me last week and decided to skip our meetings coinciding with the monthly all hands so we could each float and sit in on the different committees. I was honored to be overruled and even happier to find out they made the right call and I was dead wrong.

Also by Henry Clifford: Getting Into A “Day 1” Mindset

I sat in on the project review meeting this morning and was blown away by the amount of energy and passion pulsing through the room. The committee’s leader, a promising recent hire named Zack Reichert, guided the group through its hour skillfully, making sure to assign a timekeeper and scribe to document SMART commitments before ending on time.

I did the math. These committee meetings run around $4000 in billable time. That’s $48,000 per year. I bet we’ll figure out how to save or earn 10 times that amount within the next 12 months (roughly $500,000). We’re going to track it and report the results companywide. I will sit in on the “Ownership Thinking” committee folks next month and can’t wait to see what I learn.

What are you doing to tap into your company’s hive mind?