Will ‘decoding’ employees help Israeli start-ups grow?

Leerom Segal argues that companies would do better if they put the same aggressive data tools toward measuring their employees’ happiness as they do toward customers.

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December 18, 2014 12:45
2 minute read.
Leerom Segal

Leerom Segal. (photo credit: PR)

Is management style what’s stopping the start-up nation from becoming the scale-up nation? Israeli-Canadian entrepreneur and author Leerom Segal thinks it might.

In his book The Decoded Company, coauthored with Aaron Goldstein, Jay Goldman and Rahaf Harfoush, Segal argues that companies would do better if they put the same aggressive data tools toward measuring their employees’ happiness as they do toward customers.

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“We see an opportunity to take inspiration from what’s working in the consumer landscape and pull it into the workspace,” he said in a Tuesday interview in Tel Aviv.

By worrying about how their employees work, feel and interact, companies can make happier, more efficient and more productive employees.

One step is to ensure that hierarchies don’t exist for the sake of hierarchy, and letting people make their own decisions instead of simply following decisions made from on high.

“Over time, ecosystems will prevail over hierarchies,” he said, though saying that the model would apply best to companies that have incorporated many disciplines, who have between 100-1000 employees.

“There is a better way to organize people. It requires a higher level of trust, but their is a greater payoff,” he said.

Another element is to help workers simply do their jobs is changing the technological tools they work with in a focused way. In his company Klick, for example, they banned email.

“Email is the ultimate faster horse – it’s just a digitized memo,” he said in a reference to Henry Ford’s quip that before cars, consumers would have asked for faster horses.

“It’s a great way to let other people reprioritize your day for you.”

Instead, they created a system of shared tasks and a nonchronological way to prioritize them.

Like some other companies with forward-thinking management styles – he cites Zappos, Whole Foods, Netflix and Starbucks – Klick makes many of its management tips publicly available.

In Israel, that kind of model could be key, he said.

“The innovations that are coming from Israel tend to point to all these trends.”

The Israel-born businessman, who admits that he has yet to translate the book to Hebrew, has had an impressive career. Having moved to Canada with his family at the age of eight, Segal stumbled into starting his own company at the age of 12, importing and assembling computer parts and installing high-end audio-visual software.

The company ended up getting acquired when he was just 14, and by the age of 16 was named chief technology officer of publicly traded Motion Works Group.

In 1997, he went on to cofound Klick, which is the world’s largest independent digital health agency.


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