Does your company’s culture empower people to speak up? [Brief Survey]

Does your company’s culture empower people to speak up? [Brief Survey]

Does your company’s culture empower people to speak up?

[Brief Survey]

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The new world of work can be frustrating, and giving employees a voice can feel difficult. Nothing is more demoralizing than a culture where no-one listens to your issues or ideas.

With many remote workers feeling it’s hard to raise important issues and get a reciprocal feedback loop going, now is the time to find out if your organization can be more ‘open’

Swae is an all-in-one platform to bring together ideas, problems, solutions, decisions and discussion- and has employee engagement and inclusivity at its heart.

From Teams to DAOs, and Enterprises, Swae’s results speak for themselves- but how do you know if Swae can boost your engagement?

Answer these questions (survey takes about 2 minutes) to analyze how your organization measures up around this idea of an inclusive culture…

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In 2022, culture is now more important to employees than salary but 86% of employees feel they are not heard ‘fairly or equally’…63% believe their views & opinions are completely ignored!

If people are going to be afraid, I’d rather they’re afraid of what will happen if they stay silent than being afraid of what will happen if they speak up.
We’re not going to have a culture where the messenger gets shot. We’re going to celebrate the person who called a potential threat or risk to our attention.’

Elon Musk SpaceX, Tesla,

More to explore…
High Performers in Companies Around the Globe Use Swae [Here Are 3 Reasons Why] 

High Performers in Companies Around the Globe Use Swae [Here Are 3 Reasons Why] 

High Performers in Companies Around the Globe Use Swae

[Here Are 3 Reasons Why]

1 June 2022 4 min Read

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What makes a high-performance leader or employee tick? Research shows that companies win more often when they build genuinely diverse, equitable, and inclusive cultures (learn more here).

These can be high-performing companies or individuals stepping into bold, authentic leadership styles that set them apart from others. Companies and leaders considered to be “high performers” are spread throughout key, identifiable workplaces around the globe and the one thing that binds them together is that to be consistent in high performance they’re setting themselves apart from the status quo and fighting for a new way to do work better.

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Thanks to the Covid pandemic and other social and demographic changes, we’re living through a once-in-a-generation power rebalance between employees and employers. Gone are the days of top-down hierarchical dictatorships in workplaces. We’re seeing a new era emerge with new norms, where people have their voices heard —and feedback turns into new possibilities for organizations to pursue.

High performers win more not because they go against the status quo and this is due to the way that they solve problems. The best way to solve modern-day organizational problems is to have competing ideas on the table to thoroughly discuss, not just the wisdom from a few of those at the top or who are the loudest. New research from Harvard Business Review titled  Approaches to Solving Problems in the Workplace , states that, “Highly effective teams solve problems the right way and have common features: the teams are cognitively diverse and psychologically safe.”

So, companies who build more diverse teams and create “speak up” cultures where there is trust and respect amongst cognitively diverse people do far better at solving everyday challenges than those that who have a more traditional and less cognitively diverse and psychologically safe spaces for problem and solution discussion.

According to Boston Consulting Group’s 2017 Diversity and Innovation Survey, companies with above-average diversity scores (via investing in creating conditions for cognitive diversity) generate nearly 20% more average revenue from innovation than companies that have below average diversity scores (and subsequently have not invested in creating the conditions for cognitive diverse in their organizations).

Companies with more diverse Leadership report higher Innovation Revenue
Companies with below average diversity scores

Average innovation revenue 

%

Companies with above average diversity scores

Average innovation revenue 

%

Source: Boston Consulting Group’s 2017 Diversity and Innovation Survey

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The latest research from Kaspersky, a leading enterprise innovation and security company states that, “88% of successful high performing organizations encourage innovation at every level, in every team,” and don’t silo innovation into one small department. And, in their follow up report on Bottom-up Innovation in Enterprise shows they share the most important values required for building high performing and innovative organizations.

    • Instilling Entrepreneurialism
    • Creating Diversity (of thought and personnel)
    • Empowering individuals
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Not convinced by the research? We can tap into the wisdom of others, so let’s analyze what Steve Jobs has said.

“If you want to hire great people and have them stay, you have to be run by ideas, not hierarchy. The best ideas have to win.”


Steve Jobs Apple, NeXT, Pixar

Working with the world’s most innovative companies at Swae, we know that high performers thrive in workplaces where there is an idea meritocracy, not top-down authority and dictatorship.

An idea meritocracy is defined as a decision-making system where the best ideas (irrespective of who proposes them) win out. The concept has been around for a long time but was popularized by Ray Dalio in his best-selling book Principles: Life & Work, which shares an in-depth exposé of his organizational and operating strategy within his company called Bridgewater (learn more here), which is arguably the most successful hedge fund.

Dalio attributes the “idea meritocracy” at Bridgewater as a decision-making system where new investment and policy ideas can come from anywhere in the hierarchy, can be challenged by anyone, and the most debated are the ideas put forward for institutional decisions, as the system responsible for the quality and quantity of good decisions made to lead to such an outsized performance gap against all other competitors in their space.

“Our success occurred because we created a real idea meritocracy in which the goal was to have meaningful work and meaningful relationships and the way we went after them was through radical truthfulness and radical transparency.”


Ray Dalio Founder Bridgewater Associates

Examples from these cultural icons and highly innovative business tycoons helps paint the picture of the powerful underlying constructs that Swae brings to the table. It’s built for any organization or leader who wants to unleash the collective intelligence that lies within a workplace.

Swae is not a fickle chat or upvoting app. 

Swae is not a boring idea enablement workflow platform. 

Swae is not just a product innovation platform.

It is so much more; turning feedback into organizational change and creating a bottom-up idea meritocracy.

Swae can help your workplace become an industry example and high-performing entity due to the help in building a more constructive speak up culture. As demonstrated above, this is a critical step for driving more innovative ideas forward, faster.

Swae’s AI and Collaboration features help people refine ideas together in an inclusive way. Imagine an open suggestion box combined with a conditional guarantee of a decision. Anyone can suggest ideas within the organization they belong to, and ideas compete for decision attention equally. The ideas that receive the most debate graduate to a decision. Leaders commit to making a decision about the fate of popular ideas directly on the platform.

Fair, transparent, bottom-up, and meritocratic decision-making. That’s the Swae way.

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How Swae supports high performers everywhere:

Swae serves the people that love to disrupt the status quo (for the good).

Swae serves DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations) by using Swae’s collective intelligence, collaboration, and crowdsourcing features allowing members of DAOs to create proposals anonymously with the support of AI that will improve the quality of those proposals and then open them up for the input of the larger community.

The crowdsourcing feature will enable the proposals to be debated on their merits, edited with others’ perspectives, and voted on by all active members of the community. The proposals that receive the highest engagement (positive or negative) automatically percolate upwards to a decision DAO community and its “council,” where projects can be funded or supported in whatever way the DAO chooses.

This process for revealing decision-ready ideas from the bottom-up can be adapted to any organization that is bold enough to desire it and for the leaders ready to disrupt the stale and boring hierarchical status quo and create environments that value people and what they have to say.

To further expand on the Kaspersky’s Bottom-up Innovation in Enterprise report, the top three barriers larger organizations face when trying to innovate more include:

A. Organizational structures add too much complexity (48% agree)

B. Too many people are involved in the [decision-making] process (42% agree)

C. It takes too long to make decisions (40% agree)

48%

Organizational structure adds additional complexity

42%

Too many people are involved in the [decision-making] process

40%

It takes too long to make decisions

Swae helps to create diverse and inclusive environments with less pain and less noise.

We know that when employees speak up, good things happen. An MIT Sloan study shows that when employees are comfortable in speaking up more often about many emerging topics, they are more likely to stay at the company longer, and to exhibit positive employee behaviors.

92%

Employees who spoke up more were 92% more likely to want to stay with the company (even if offered a comparable position elsewhere)
96% of the employees who speak up on all the survey topics said they work in teams that value diverse perspectives and feel safe to express their viewpoints.

96%

The more diverse and inclusive the teams, the better because people feel comfortable and safe to be more open, engaging, and speak up more often.

Swae is for the brave.

Swae exists to build positive workplaces that debias decisions, empower constructive debate, deepen collaboration, and tap into intrinsic motivations for engagement.

Breaking down the biases and structures that zap out our motivations in the workplace is critical for creating high performing organizations and cultures.

Unchecked bias has a massive impact in the workplace that can derail businesses from finding great ideas and making significant decisions every single day. An article by McKinsey & Company How Biases, Politics, and Egos Trump Good Strategy  shows data that proves cognitive bias eats away at the positivity within a company’s culture.

Here are a couple of the top biases according to McKinsey & Company to look out for:

  • Overconfidence: this type of bias leads people to ignore contradictory information. They don’t hear anything other than their “own voice” when considering options.
  • Confirmation Bias: refers to the human tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms or supports one’s prior beliefs or values. One study found, for instance, that 80% of executives believe that their product stands out against the competition—but only 8% of customers agree.
Eight studies with 147,000 people show that dominant, competitive leadership has the unintended consequence of zero-sum thinking — the belief that progress can be made only at the expense of others — among subordinates. Such environments disincentivize workers from helping or supporting their colleagues. 
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A more empowered and engaged way of doing business is on the rise…

We see a bright future ahead!

We at Swae envision a world where everyone understands their value and is seen for that value in their workplaces and where everyone can feel included and have a voice. Call us crazy, but we’re passionate about this vision and are working hard to make it as obvious as the current system that works in the opposite manner.

Swae is helping organizations across the world to solve today’s problems and create tomorrow’s strategy. From Start-ups to Charities, and Enterprises to DAOs, our clients find that their greatest resource is their people, and Swae is proven to help get the best from the untapped potential within their workforce.

Find your next winning ideas using Swae

More to explore…

Does Your Company Suffer from the Fear of Finding Out (FOFO)

Does Your Company Suffer from the Fear of Finding Out (FOFO)

FOFO

Does Your Company Suffer from the Fear of Finding Out (FOFO)?

8 Minute Read
FOFO business leaders not listening

This cultural and psychological barrier could be stopping your company from uncovering the hidden challenges that could derail you on your track to success

What is FOFO, the Fear of Finding Out?

We’ve all seen the meme of the ostrich with its head in the sand. And I’m sure you can recall someone in your life who behaves this way, not opening that piece of mail or asking the questions they know may bring unfavorable information, shielding themselves to temporarily preserve their ‘comfortable status quo’ or carefully crafted worldview.

The “Ostrich Effect” describes peculiar human behavior where individuals avoid information, they believe may be unpleasant. While there is speculation over who coined the term “ostrich effect” first – either behavioural economist George Loewenstein of Carnegie Mellon University or Israeli economists Dan Galai and Orly Sade (in a 2006 paper about investor behavior) – both used the phenomenon to describe the peculiar human behavior seen with investors and how they chose to stick their heads in the sand during lousy markets, ignoring information presented to them, or interpreting that information in a way that ignores potentially troubling implications.

And now cue today’s “Ostrich Effect”; “FOFO”, prevalent in so many organizations we see. Simply put, it’s the “Fear of Finding Out”, or the selective avoidance of negative information.

Could this cultural and psychological barrier be stopping your company from uncovering the hidden challenges that could derail your track to success?

Strong managers are listeners. Giving your team avenues to share problems and ideas can translate into change that matters

What is FOFO?

They say “out of sight, out of mind” but is that really true?

Similar to the Ostrich Effect, FOFO is the fear of finding out, or simply, the fear of knowing the truth. It is often used in the finance industry to describe customers afraid of opening their accounts due to the fear of poor financial health. According to a recent Barclays Bank study, 37% of Millennials had FOFO about their finances and did not like to check their bank accounts.” (R3 Consulting, Overcoming FOFO)

FOFO is also used in the medical field for those afraid to seek medical treatment and finding out they have a condition. Apparently, ‘Fear of Finding Out’ in the health industry makes up a 33% of conscious reasons why people don’t visit the doctor.

The research around FOFO from the medical industry shows that the ‘Fear of Finding Out’ mostly affects those who have an unhealthy lifestyle, and those who struggle to cope with the knowledge of a life-threatening illness. It can also impact those who do not want to be “pressured’ into making lifestyle changes.”

Fear is the foundation on which ‘Fear of Finding Out’ is built upon, and research shoes there are 3 main pillars:

  • Fear of the initiating action – 45% of women and 37% of men found the difficulty making an appointment a key barrier
  • Fear of the investigative process – 33% of adults who admitted that they had avoided a doctor visit that they deemed necessary citing ‘discomfort with a body examination’ as the primary reason
  • Fear of outcomes and implications – one of the most widely endorsed barriers to consultation in regards to cancer was found to be the ‘worry about what the doctor might find’, which was true for 34% of men and 40% of women. Furthermore, between 12% and 55% of people who undergo testing for HIV fail to return to learn whether they are infected

(Source: Cision)

Whatever the origins of FOFO, we at Swae have observed this phenomenon to be deeply prevalent in decision-makers, and the parallels in our findings hold true across all industries and organization types. What we have found is an apprehension – or sometimes even inability – to hear the truth about the problems that persist in their organization and the associated negative impacts they might have on their company’s organizational health and performance, in order to avoid conflicts or disrupt their status quo.

Everybody knows they exist, they are known but not discussable

MICHAEL BEER

We, at Swae, know organizations thrive and work better when leaders actively acknowledge potentially unpleasant information rather than run from it. We’ve partnered with numerous organizations to correct the detrimental outcomes that have come from simple “pure avoidance.”

To avoid potential disaster and confront FOFO, it is important to first understand where FOFO originates from, and why it’s allowed to persist. It is then possible to open up to the solutions to combat FOFO directly at a systems level in your workforce.
Why do leaders allow FOFO to persist inside organizations?

According to Michael Beer – Professor Emeritus at Harvard Business School and author of “Fit to Compete: Why Honest Conversations About Your Company’s Capabilities are the Key to a Winning Strategy” – there are six reasons why leaders allow FOFO to persist inside organizations.
These ‘“silent killers”, as he calls them include:

  1. Unclear strategy, values, and conflicting priorities.
  2. An ineffective senior team.
  3. Leadership behavior – top-down or laissez-faire (hands off).
  4. Poor coordination across businesses, functions, or geographic regions.
  5. Inadequate leadership/management skills and development in the organization.
  6. Low capacity for honest, collective, and public conversations about external and internal reality.

Number 6, the low capacity for honest, collective, and public conversations about external and internal realities is closely related to how good a company is at making change happen (and stick).

If problems aren’t recognized and realities aren’t faced, then a company doesn’t have a sturdy foundation, and without a sturdy foundation how can you build a solid structure?

It’s not about whether you believe in collective intelligence or not. It’s about if you can afford not to listen to the early warning signs and delay action. Swae helps you avoid expensive mistakes and issues

From our experience at Swae, number 6 is the most important and telling factor because it closely correlates to, and in some cases has a causal relationship with, how good and fast a company is at making meaningful and structural change happen (and making change stick) to improve their situation.

We’ve spent the past 3 years deploying our idea management and decision-making platform into various organizations, cultures, and environments, working with leaders across the Globe. Through this, we’ve observed that FOFO is allowed to persist inside organizations because:

  • Leaders don’t want hear the truth because they don’t want to take responsibility over solving it;
  • Leaders already know the truth and can’t do anything about it (lack of scope or authority); or;
  • Leaders afraid of the negative consequences and potential backlash to them from raising the truth or suggesting solutions to known problems

Furthermore, our research with these leaders and decision-makers have clearly shown that organizations that are more risk-averse, who operate under rigid and multi-tiered hierarchies are the most likely to suffer from FOFO at all layers of decision-making, particularly amongst upper and senior leadership. The characteristics and red-flags that come up time and time again include:

 

  • Disregard for employee voice and/or feedback
  • Tolerance towards a persisting unhealthy culture
  • Resistance towards changing of structure or approach in the face of existential threats (new technologies, trends, cultural expectations, etc.)

What is the cost and risk of allowing problems and FOFO to linger?

Unfortunately, ignorance is not bliss.

FOFO can silently destroy a company before it even knows what’s happening. Leaders typically look at the health of the company when it comes to numbers like revenue and profit, but there are many other factors that fly under the radar. This can include measures like operational or infrastructure issues, the decline in the health of a company’s culture, marketing/sales issues that hinder growth, and more.

FOFO and The Ostrich effect can be a serious drawback to tackling costly problems in organizations. Because it’s so overwhelming to contemplate the severity and complexity and interrelationships of the issues, it’s often easier for decision-makers to just ignore them or reject their importance or downplay information that contradicts their more positive narrative.

Unaddressed FOFO is dangerous, as problems left to linger means organizations are actively eroding their foundation

How can you eliminate FOFO?

Now here’s an important question for you…

If you’ve read the above and still feel comfortable selectively avoiding hard realities and prefer not to embrace the ignorance is bliss mentality, then the next section is not for you.

But, if you want to confront the realities head on, then read on:

At the root of FOFO is the fear of having uncomfortable discussions and possibly constructive but tense disagreements about the realities that confront the organization. FOFO is about confronting the elephants in the room, and in some cases, shining a light on the real truth often to those with authority who may not want to hear it. The fears of doing this are real – the act of speaking up may have ripple effects and consequences on your standing, autonomy, and access to resources.

But, not speaking up usually means that you are prolonging the inevitable. More often than not, silence means that you’re risking your own future, your company’s future, and the future of colleagues you now call friends within your organization as a whole.

To tackle FOFO head on, you must value the potential positive outcomes and solutions that you might reveal more than the discomfort of the process of revealing the challenges. The positive consequences and results must outweigh both the discomfort of raising the issue and the pain of carrying around unresolved truths for a never ending period of time. That’s a heavy burden to carry.

In a world of empty promises, manipulation, and deception, a true leader cares for the well-being of others; she shoes commitment to advancing the best interests of those around her…Ultimately, it’s this kind of love that defines the best CEOs on the planet.”

Marcel Schwantes
Founder of Leadership from the Core

How Swae can help?

The potentially devastating consequences of FOFO can be neutralized when leaders learn how to face the truth, even when it hurts.

Swae was designed to help leaders and employees create a “speak up” culture for everyone’s benefit, without making significant structural changes to how they manage the organization.

By implementing a technology platform like Swae, this enables an organization to source insights and ideas from more people more often, leaders can easily tap into the hidden problems that people are facing and open the funnel to discover winning and decision-ready solutions for solving issues — from the bottom-up.

Simply put, when more voices are heard, leaders see and know more, and they become empowered with new insights consistently. It’s becoming quite widely accepted that our best ideas and solutions can come from an organization’s people (regardless of hierarchy), the same few people don’t need to decide the fate of many.

If you feel your company suffers from FOFO, start by implementing any of these solutions above and you can start to correct your course. A path that’s unique for your people and for the purpose of your company.

If you want to overcome your FOFO, Swae is a turnkey solution that can give your employees a safe and streamlined way to express their feelings, raise problems and give you their best ideas. 

We’d love to hear from you!

As we continue to dig deeper and deeper into this subject matter, we find FOFO is something that resonates with so many of our clients, colleagues and friends. If you find the above all too familiar, we would love to chat and learn more about your specific experience and would love 10 minutes of your time to chat.

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