Numerous CEO friends continually extol the employee virtues of ownership thinking. I’ve never jumped on that bandwagon. I’ve met my share of passive and disengaged, country club-like, and unsophisticated owners. With that jaded imagery in my mind, I don’t want employees thinking like owners, even if the bad ones represent a small minority of all entrepreneurs. Instead, I prefer a stewardship mentality.
My favorite example of stewardship is the banker who takes our funds she does not own, protects that precious asset, and tries to grow it for her and the rightful owner. As a steward, we own nothing but guard, protect, foster, and grow what has been given to us until the owner returns for it.
For the ownership-thinking acolytes who find stewardship thinking offputting or too lofty, consider the My 15% framework. I’m not sure who innovated the mental model. I found it on a page of The Applied Critical Thinking Handbook (formerly The Red Team Playbook).
What is this framework or mental model? Here is the entire chapter on this impactful tactic that is included in The Applied Critical Thinking Handbook.
Most people have about 15 percent control over their work situations. The other 85 percent rests in the broader context, shaped by the general structures, systems, events and culture in which they operate. The challenge rests in finding ways of creating transformational change incrementally: By encouraging people to mobilize small but significant “15 percent initiatives” that can snowball in their effects. When guided by a sense of shared vision, the process can tap into the self-organizing capacities of everyone involved.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a General Officer or an enlisted soldier, a Senior Executive or a member of the team. You still have only your 15 percent.
Where do you have freedom to act? What’s in your 15%?The Applied Thinking Critical Handbook, page 162
I’m a fan of pairing. That is, when I recommend a book, I suggest a complimentary read to reinforce my suggestion, even if it has an opposing viewpoint.
Similarly, I like pairing a mental construct with another. I will not define it here as I’ll let you do it but pair My 15% with a concept innovated by the founder of Patagonia, the 5-15 report.
Red Team Thinking
My 15% is one of many frameworks included in The Applied Critical Thinking Handbook. If you would like to learn more, I’d start with the history of red teaming, and I cannot think of a better person to discuss this than Bryce Hoffman, who wrote one of my favorite books, American Icon.
Bryce also wrote Red Teaming: How Your Business Can Conquer the Competition by Challenging Everything, which we discussed on a CFO Bookshelf podcast episode.
Alan Mulally is an American Icon in Business
With Bryce Hoffman – Listen Here
Includes the what, why, and who of red teaming.