Thursday, June 19, 2008

Recognition in the “Chaordic Age”

How can “Chaordic” relate to recognition and certificate frames? I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this book (written in 2000) and the buzzword “Chaordic” which can be briefly described as the chaos of competition and the order of cooperation coexisting though meaningful connections.

“A chaordic organization is formed by attending to six elements in the proper order: Purpose, Principles, People, Concept, Structure and Practice.” – Dee Hock Birth of the Chaordic Age

Note “purpose” is first. Everyone wants purpose. High business success correlates one-to-one with the genuine purpose of the product you sell or the service you offer. Recognition with empty, generic, purpose lacks the fundamental congruence to connect with employees to make them feel really appreciated.

So then how can we apply the chaordic to recognition directly as a methodology for new recognition products or a recognition program structure? In its MOST simple form I see the Six Chaordic Elements as the guide. The PURPOSE of recognition is to honor, and promote good work resulting in motivation to do more good work. PRINCIPLES honor competition to earn recognition. It is all about PEOPLE and recognition is personal. Rather than giving something generic, make it personal in CONCEPT, creating a memento that allows reflection on that specific moment of good. Concept brings specific content to that recognition product that creates connection. STRUCTURE guides us to define real goals for recognition. PRACTICE represents the follow-through to consistently monitor and present recognition for those goals or good deeds in a timely manner.

Congruence between all six elements applied to recognition takes an award or thank you to the next level, forming connections. A Fusion Frames case study describes a great example of this congruence in action. Poster size certificate frames created for the American Red Cross to recognize 2007 corporate donors for the California Wild Fires used actual photos from the disaster, creating a connection between the donor and recipient. The use of corporate logos on the posters also connected and marketed the corporate philanthropy, all within the recognition structure of Red Cross recognition levels. The concept and practice was applied all the way down to a simple paper certificate of thanks, achieving a real connection to the generosity provided from the largest corporate donor to the single volunteer.

Real, meaningful recognition is the hallmark of a successful recognition program. Meaning through chaordic methods can be the calling for all employees to feel good about success and all volunteers and donors to feel good about giving.

ADDENDUM: I cannot say that this blog post does justice to the complexities of Hock’s book. It is meant to be a brief glimpse of practice and food for thought in our little recognition niche.

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