The cultural support at Intuit enabling employee leaders to create company-wide initiatives


  • Reference meeting: "a06-140 — writing — marcio — note about Levy and Cohen leadership story in allance with the Intuit culture 942f5124-93b4-4e92-bb47-ef7c61ffa633" Tuesday, December 31⋅1:00 – 1:30pm
  • Parent project: Course on Culture and Leadership
  • Participants: Marcio S Galli
  • Text language: en-us
  • Tags: Leadership, HR, Human Resources, Intuit: Katie Levy, Intuit: Shelby Cohen, The Alliance: Reid Hoffman, The Alliance: Ben Casnocha, culture, technology.
  • Document status: Copyright, draft.

Notes from the article

I wrote this note after reading the article entitled How to Make an Impact in a Male-Dominated Industry, from Women Who’ve Done It.

When reading this story, I felt a connection with ideas from the book The Alliance, by Ben Casnocha and Reid Hoffman. I am not saying that the book presented a specific case similar to what they did at Intuit. But it seems that this leadership story could be placed in the same bucket of the book because of the book goal. Looking The Alliance as a movement, or a live project, it seemed for me that "the-alliance-the-project" would be interested in understanding the modern ways that people work and how they change organizations.

Therefore, in this writing, I am forcing such connection with the book because of a main reason. Because it seems to be constructive to look at these movements, of leadership; movements that are in many cases initiated independently by employees. It seems to be constructive to augument them, so that they are better understood by management; therefore to enable corporate cultures to be able to recognise and promote them as strategic mission-oriented projects.

The part that I am looking at, to explore this connection, starts with the effort that Levy and Cohen have formed. They seem to have formed a group with an intent that may relate to the notion of mission-oriented jobs mentioned in the book. However, what the authors talked in the book have more to do with the notion of a manager working with the employee in a mission-oriented agreement, say for 1-2 years. So in the book version, the notion of a mission job really seems to be more individualistic approach and more central to what the employee does at the company.

On the other hand, in Levy and Cohen story, something seems to be new. Yes, what they did can be thought like a mission. However, it's also a sort of consortium, like an alliance in which multiple individuals get together — like a working group. But what is nice here is that it seems to not be a job-specific goal and that they might not even be part of the same team. It seemed to be that they were working on that something, as they say an initiative, that could be thought as parallel to their jobs — yet a mission that shifts the norm.

Quest to know more about this story

Here are some questions I have for myself, for the sake of improving this conversation. I am putting them here because they could be answered eventually:

  • Have Levy and Cohen formed their partnership independently of any direct management-directed agreement? Or prior job specification? I am assuming that they were developers and they decided to initiate that move.

  • Does Intuit offers and framework for creating a a company-wide initiative? If so, could you point other prior examples?

  • Have the fact that they were early/new employees contributed to them? Perhaps they were not stuck on prior older projects, into the engines of the system; therefore they had approval and trust for moving on with this important (but not urgent) initiative?

  • From the article, it is clear that the external world community was a key element so that themselves were able to trust, then to decide to bring the initiative at Intuit. You confirm this? Other points to add about how explicit the practice of interacting with the external environment is promoted at Intuit?

  • In the sense of reading the external world does Intuit allow and encourage employees (and if so would this apply to which kinds of roles?) to interact with the external environment. Are they explicit about this, to they specify possible outcomes of the interaction with the external world projects?

  • The article indicated a concept entitled "accidental detours". Would you be able to elaborate more on this? And more, specifically about the possibility of a structured process, for making accidental detours shift to "paved roads". Was this notion, as a practice, explored or written?

  • The four key methods, indicated in the article, were designed entirely by Kohen and Levy? Have they learned about such methods by experience, or the approach gained structure with their leadership initiative? Have they evolved the method from some other method?

  • The binding with goals, as indicated in the article, may indicate that their activity perhaps became part of their agreed goals, like a corporate contract with their management with possibly a buy-in from upper management. Can you elaborate more about the seed of this idea? It was originated from which need? From who? And what conditions supported them to have such goal to become part of their "plate".

  • The item *be empathetic" shows a leadership characteristic that seems to correlate with design processes. Have they planned to be empathetic as a strategy such as following any design methodology or being inspired by?

Marcio é um empreendedor com interesse em inovação, empreendedorismo, cultura e gestão. Formado em ciências da computação, Marcio fez seu estágio de graduação no Vale do Silício em uma das empresas que marcaram a história da Internet (Netscape Communications). Posteriormente mudou-se para o Vale do Silício trabalhando para Netscape / America Online, Yahoo! e posteriormente ao voltar ao Brasil, para a Mozilla Corporation (criadores do navegador Firefox). Antes de se tornar empreendedor e consultor, Marcio pode colaborar com vários departamentos como marketing, inovação, engenharia e em times de documentação e evangelismo. Se tornou autor de patentes internacionais e gosta de estudar e escrever para os futuros empreendedores e gestores. Marcio é apaixonado por comunicação, negócios, tecnologia e cultura. Alguns dos seus livros preferidos são High Output Management, Conscious Business, The Hard Things about Hard Things, Maslow on Management, The Startup of You, The Alliance, Zero to One, dentre outros.

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