Holding up the mirror: Practicing what you preach

Semco Style Story feat. Kubadili, Argentina

Kubadili, a non-profit organization based in Argentina, is renowned for its innovative approach to redefining work methods for its clients. After certifying as a Semco Style Expert, Co-founder Majo Greloni fearlessly applied her newfound knowledge within her organization. Together with her team, they ventured into a bold, co-creative journey of experimentation, now practicing what they passionately preach. This story not only celebrates Kubadili’s achievements but also serves as a testament to the practical power of Semco Style in revolutionizing non-profit operations.

Kubadili’s mission is to amplify the effectiveness of organizations, governments, and philanthropic funds by pioneering unique, agile frameworks that foster collaboration and experimentation while focusing on generating value. In addition, Kubadili supports the design and development of learning communities and strengthens the leader’s capabilities. It has a network in Latin America and Spain that includes more than 80 experts in agility, coaching, mentoring, and the provision of collaborative spaces.

 

Kubadili is a Swahili word meaning change – a perfect alignment with why the company exists and a strong indicator of how it operates and organizes itself internally. Majo joined the Semco Style Expert Program to enhance her knowledge of people-centric cultures and find guiding principles to strengthen Kubadili. Armed with the Semco Style Framework and implementation Roadmap, she was well-equipped to co-create an improved culture with the Kubadili team.

A foundation of alignment

Kubadili embarked on its path to alignment and continuous improvement several years ago. By 2019, it had already been engaging in active retrospectives to assess its successes and challenges. Its approach to setting goals revolved around the objectives and key results (OKRs) framework, and it began a systematic redesign of its organizational structure.

 

Over the following three years, the team developed a consistent practice of 360-degree feedback, regular reviews, and continuous training. The annual retreat was not only enjoyable but also vital to maintaining alignment.

“Never rush it – have meaningful conversations during the process.”

These iterative cycles and tools enabled Kubadili to foster a culture of participation, review, and improvement, which laid a solid foundation for a more people-centric approach. The team took full ownership of determining strategic goals, paving the way for decentralized decision-making. This empowerment allowed teams and employees to make significant decisions with minimal bureaucratic interference.

 

A journey of self-direction

As part of their ongoing development, Majo introduced the Semco Style methodology at Kubadili, and they completed the Semco Style Selfie Assessment. This tool, comprising 45 carefully selected questions, evaluates a team based on the Semco Style Framework and enables them to identify areas of improvement.

 

The insights gained from the Selfie highlighted ways Kubadili could better foster conditions for autonomous decision-making and evolve into a self-organizing, people-oriented culture. Majo and her team used the framework as a structure to tell their improvement story.

 

Extreme Stakeholder Alignment

Kubadili’s transformation journey was fundamentally guided by enhancing its alignment process. Over the last few years, they have increasingly recognized the value of alignment and proper planning and have adopted a structured approach. The Three-year vision emphasizes the importance of a long-term vision and strategic direction, which includes setting and monitoring goals. This is further supported by Annual pillars, which are crucial for accomplishing strategic objectives. OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) complete the picture by offering a pragmatic method for systematically measuring and achieving organizational results.

 

This structured approach allows teams to monitor their progress through a Monthly Plan, which provides a detailed account of the execution of planned objectives and activities. Reviews and retrospectives are used to assess and reflect on attained results. This fosters continuous learning and enhancement and supports their belief in Intellectual humility, recognizing the ongoing commitment to education and growth. Weekly meetings facilitate team coordination and progress tracking, ensuring active organizational involvement.

 

The Selfie insights also highlighted Kubadili’s external engagement with key stakeholders and the importance of aligning solutions with user needs and considering their opinions early in the process.  This prompted an outreach to all stakeholders. Each year commences with Interviews involving key stakeholders to gather their views and opinions.  This is integrated into strategic planning and assists in setting the course and focus for the year.

 

Shared control

Kubadili embraces the concept of a Liquid organization, a term they use to describe their adaptable and flexible organization. Roles and responsibilities are fluid, adjusting to the organization’s and its members’ needs. This adaptability also extends to their broad network of collaborators – knowing they will enter and exit the network at specific moments. Given this dynamic, a transparent Induction process is crucial. Kubadili’s induction process emphasizes care for collaborators and promotes shared responsibility and decision-making.  They stress the importance of Making bold decisions while involving all stakeholders.

 

Central to maintaining this flexible and shared approach is a Clear purpose. The team collectively defines the organizational purpose, recognizing its motivational impact on self-management. Another enabler is the Circle of People, which comprises individuals with a distinct focus on the team’s well-being, development, and growth. They effectively utilize a Skills matrix, which allows team members to assess and self-evaluate their progress, identify opportunities, and define a path of improvement.

Creative Innovation

In such a flexible and dynamic setup, with high levels of individual ownership and responsibility, Kubadili deemed ensuring a culture of Learning and experimentation critical.  They actively encourage experimentation and allow creativity to flow in daily operations. This culture of learning and experimentation has led to numerous successful experiments within the broader community of collaborators and facilitated a way to establish diverse ways of engaging and contributing to Kubadili.  Majo remembers the transformative power of experimentation with highly diverse participants, “Our ability to experiment and listen to the needs of team members, and the network of coaches, has nurtured us and has allowed us to grow rapidly and excel in operations.”

 

“Experiment! Learn fast!”

 

In a learning environment, the first realization is that there will always be errors and failed experiments. Majo frequently emphasizes the importance of focusing on positive outcomes, the learning process, and the personal growth from these experiences. This approach cultivates Psychological safety, creating a supportive space where collaborators feel encouraged to experiment without fear.

 

The Circle of People plays a pivotal role in reinforcing this environment. Dedicated to team members’ well-being, personal growth, and creativity, this group ensures that the organization’s creative potential is fully realized.

 

As an NGO and social enterprise, Kubadili understands the necessity of maintaining a professional team that can sustain itself long-term. By embracing flexibility and innovation, they actively balance a dual purpose: the equilibrium between social impact and economic sustainability to ensure their continued effectiveness and relevance as an organization committed to making a difference.

 

Trust

Kubadili’s journey of self-direction would not have been possible without cultivating a culture characterized by Trust and Treating adults as adults. It forms the foundation for fostering autonomy in decision-making processes, working with stakeholders, delivering on promises, and finding creative solutions for their business and clients. This trust is illustrated in their Participative recruitment practice, which creates a space for all relevant team members to be involved. Through open dialogue and discussions between team members and applicants, they ensure that new hires fit the organization and their way of working.  The focus on Organizational care recognizes the necessity of pre-emptive conversations to uphold mutual trust and ensure commitment.

 

A significant achievement in their journey towards self-management was establishing the Compensation circle. This initiative introduced a system where salaries are determined and adjusted collaboratively, which is Kubadili’s innovative approach to self-set salaries – one of the holy grails of self-management. A crucial element of this system is to openly Share financial information with all team members and link it to current performance and future objectives. Significant effort is dedicated to Teaching the numbers and ensuring everyone understands and can correctly interpret this information. This transparency allows team members to engage in informed discussions about salary adjustments, emphasizing the practical balance between individual needs and what the organization can afford.

 

Although this might be frightening to some, Majo’s experience is that a lot of freedom was gained by opening financial information and bringing people into the conversation of Self-set salaries.  The initial fear is that people will demand outrageous salaries, but with the correct numbers on hand and the ability to interpret the company’s performance, harmful competition diminishes, and the actual value of each person is seen.  This is an excellent approach to Aligned self-interest, where individuals balance their needs with what the company can afford.  Practically, Kubadili set Boundaries for action, determining that salary increases can be requested and motivated twice a year, with the Compensation Circle deciding on the available funds and the distribution percentages.

 

Towards the future

The Kubadili team has done tremendous work establishing a self-organized environment over the years. Their approach to flexibility and freedom is underpinned by trust and responsibility, giving people a clear framework to flourish. Adapting the Principles of Semco Style has equipped Majo with a structured language and framework, reinforcing the principles she has advocated for so long. The insights gained from the Selfie assessment and Roadmap confirmed that they were actively tackling the correct aspects of their journey.

 

As a learning organization, Majo acknowledges that there is still a substantial path ahead – a continuous journey of discovery and maturing into the dream organization they envision. She firmly believes in self-organization and challenges Kubadili to evolve, aiming for increased responsiveness and an even more entrepreneurial spirit.

Semco Style Stories

Kubadili from Argentina is a non-profit organization that aims to enhance the impact of organizations, governments, and philanthropic funds by facilitating the identification of their challenges and constructing ways of working that allow them to increase their value generation.

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