Kategoriarkiv: Leadership

Peter Pula on why hosting is harder than leading

Peter Pula

Peter Pula is the Founder of Axiom News. Here is his post on Why Hosting Is Harder than Leading. He writes that:

“We have become so remarkably accustomed to a form of leadership that comes from the top.”

“Top down leadership seems easier in the short term, but I believe it takes its toll. Too many leaders I have seen are in despair, … without the power to give life but only to take it away or at best hold the line.”

“Hosting the space for generativity is a different game entirely. … Deep, deep democracy is at work.”

“Holding space for life … starts with acknowledging you are a limited perceiver. … the best hosts must … [be] ready to be changed personally, to learn, and to be surprised.”

”… nothing changes until those gathered drop into their truest intentions and purposes and come into presence with one another …”

“As a host … Are you able to stay ‘still in disturbance’ when you have unleashed life on an unsuspecting routine? … Can you stay ‘soft’ and out of leader-centric narcissism, its highs and lows, its doubts and certainties? Can you tenderly hold what is being born?”

Here is Peter Pula’s full blog archive.

Analysis of egalitarian dynamics among the G/wi

This is a post in my organizing ”between and beyond” series. Other posts are here. The purpose of this post is to explore the egalitarian dynamics among the G/wi-speaking people in the Central Kalahari Reserve of Botswana. The analysis is summarized here.

Background
The egalitarian dynamics among foraging societies hold clues to a deeper generative ”order” for organizing. The example below is from Politics and history in band societies edited by Eleanor Leacock and Richard Lee. George Silberbauer spent time together with the G/wi in 1958–66. The G/wi were the only permanent inhabitants in the remote and arid heart of Botswana.1 Exploration for, and exploitation of, natural resources have disrupted the lives of the G/wi. The close-knit, self-sufficient organization of the G/wi were gone already in the 1950s.2

Assumptions

The community (the band)

  • The social community is the band.3
  • The band has a stable identity as a group of people living in a geographically specific territory and controlling the use of the resources of that territory.4
  • Membership of the band is less stable than its identity. Members are free to join other bands and are, therefore, free to leave the current band.5
  • The size of the community is limited by available resources of food etc. The community is open, but is nevertheless a finite one.6

Groups (cliques)

  • Cliques are unstable groups which which shift when moving to a new campsite every three to six weeks. The group’s composition is determined by the preference for one another’s close company.7
  • Interaction within a clique is much more intense than between cliques. The exchange of goods and services is higher within the clique. The women usually form a food-gathering group, and the men assist one another.8
  • Cliques also become focuses of opinion and function as sub-units of agreement within the band.9

Leadership

  • Leadership is the extent to which an individual’s suggestion or opinion attracts public support.10
  • The leadership is authoritative, rather than authoritarian. Knowledge, experience, and firmness are characteristics which win support. Expertise in one area may be seen as not at all relevant to another area.11
  • Leadership shifts unpredictably. Many discussions and lack of competitiveness separates idea from identity.12

Decision-making

  • The process of reaching a decision is initiated by somebody identifying and communicating a problem which calls for decision.13
  • Decisions affecting the band as a whole are arrived at through discussion in which all adult, and near-adult, members may participate.14
  • There are many ways to discuss: A quiet, serious discussion; A campaign of persuasion; Or a public harangue.15 The ‘forced eavesdrop’ avoids direct confrontation. Opponents are free to do the same.16
  • The time taken for discussion is naturally limited by the urgency of the matter. Less urgent matters can be debated for long with the subject cropping up from time to time until a satisfying solution to the problem is reached.17
  • If discussion becomes too angry or excited, debate is temporarily adjourned by the withdrawal of the attention of the calmer participants until things cool down.18
  • Public decisions cover a wide field. That which is not public is permitted to be private, but there is little which escapes the concern and insight of band fellows.19

Consensus

  • Decisions are arrived at by consensus. Consensus is a term in common use but without common meaning. It is not unanimity of opinion or decision. In the same way as egalitarian doesn’t mean equality.20
  • Consensus is reached by examining the various possible courses of action and rejection of all but one to which there remains no significant opposition.21
  • Significant opposition is the dissent of those to whom the proposal is not acceptable, who are unable to live with it, and who are not prepared to concede the decision.22
  • The fact that it is the band as a whole which decides is both necessary and sufficient to legitimize what is decided and to make the decision binding.23

Coercion

  • The consent in consensus negates coercion, and vice versa.24
  • The openness of the band gives members freedom to move to another band.25
  • The power lies in what the band decides and in book-keeping of material benefits and social balance.26
  • The leadership is facilitative, rather than forceful, seeking ways of getting things done, while accommodating dissent.27

Conclusions
The example above shows how deeply leadership and decision-making is embedded in the social context of the G/wi. The leadership is authoritative, rather than authoritarian, and shifts unpredictably depending on the situation. The decision-making is done in many ways depending on the kind of decision and the urgency of the decision. Individual band members choose freely which groups to join, and strives for cooperation in the activities he or she wishes to undertake. It is also interesting to notice how the openness of the band gives members freedom to move to another band. The freedom to move to another band is an effective way to meet coercion. The loss of many band members would be costly to those remaining. An open, egalitarian, social structure is authentic because it’s based on a natural belonging together, while a closed, coercive, social structure is counterfeit because it’s a forced belonging together.

Notes:
1 Ibid., Eleanor Leacock, Richard Lee (editors), Politics and history in band societies (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1982), p. 23.
2 Ibid., p. 24.
3 Ibid..
4 Ibid..
5 Ibid..
6 Ibid., p. 26.
7 Ibid., p. 28.
8 Ibid..
9 Ibid..
10 Ibid., p. 29.
11 Ibid..
12 Ibid..
13 Ibid..
14 Ibid., p. 26.
15 Ibid..
16 Ibid., p. 27.
17 Ibid..
18 Ibid., p. 29.
19 Ibid., p. 30.
20 Ibid., p. 31.
21 Ibid., p. 32.
22 Ibid., p. 34.
23 Ibid., p. 32.
24 Ibid..
25 Ibid., p. 33.
26 Ibid., p. 34.
27 Ibid..

Related posts:
Organizing in between and beyond posts

John Seddon on lean

John Seddon writes about lean in his two books Freedom from Command & Control and The Whitehall Effect. He writes that the term lean was coined by Womack, Roos and Jones1 when they wrote The Machine That Changed the World. The term thus came to represent the Toyota Production System as a whole.

What’s interesting is that Taiichi Ohno, the man behind the Toyta Production System, unequivocally warned against using any kind of label on grounds that people then would view it as a ready-made package.2 Ohno counselled, never codify method, because it is the thinking that is the key.3 Ohno’s favorite word was understanding. He never explained.4 To Ohno, the approach was a way of behaving when faced with problems that needed solving.5 The point is that you can only absorb counterintuitive truths by studying and seeing them yourself.6

To sum up, the reason lean has become so popular is that it reduced the Toyota Production System to a set of tools.7 Tools can be taught and reporting can be institutionalized.8 Learning, on the other hand, requires active involvement.9

Updates 2016-06-19:
References added to Freedom from Command & Control and The Machine That Change the World.

Notes:
1 John Seddon, Freedom from Command & Control, (2nd ed., 2005), p. 182.
2 John Seddon, The Whitehall Effect, (1st ed., 2014), p. 149.
3 Ibid..
4 Ibid..
5 John Seddon, Freedom from Command & Control, (2nd ed., 2005), p. 182.
6 John Seddon, The Whitehall Effect, (1st ed., 2014), p. 150.
7 Ibid..
8 John Seddon, Freedom from Command & Control, (2nd ed., 2005), p. 182.
9 Ibid..

The toxic handler

Peter J. Frost and Sandra Robinson presents their research on The Toxic Handler: Organizational Hero—and Casualty in the July–August 1999 issue of the Harvard Business Review. They write that:

Toxic handlers voluntarily shoulder the sadness and the anger that are endemic to organizational life.

Toxic handlers alleviate organizational pain in five ways:

  • They listen empathetically.
  • They suggest solutions.
  • They work behind the scenes to prevent pain.
  • They carry the confidences of others.
  • They reframe difficult messages.

But toxic handlers also pay a high price themselves in creating a life-giving environment within the larger toxic organization.

Managing organizational pain is vital to the health of the enterprise—but at great cost to the health of the toxic handlers themselves.

I wonder if it’s worth it to risk your health?

Integral Management

Integral Management is a management model which addresses the question: ”What does it take to have everyone in a company wholeheartedly join forces and take on challenges that, to most companies, would seem quite impossible?” The model has grown organically for more than 25 years. It’s based on a learning dialog involving tens of thousands of managers and co-workers from around the world. There is a book in Swedish, Manöverbarhet (maneuverability), by Lasse Ramquist and Mats Eriksson, which describes the management model and its development since the early 1980s in detail. There’s also a shorter English version of the book, Integral Management (see the picture), which describes the model and how to make a company come together as One Team.

Related post:
Analysis of Integral Management

Directed Opportunism

Moltke (1800–1891) developed auftragstaktik, which slipped into English as mission command, and is called directed opportunism by Stephen Bungay.1 The principles are:

  1. Decide what really matters
  2. Get the message across
  3. Give people space and support

Notes:
1 Stephen Bungay, Moltke – Master of Modern Management, The European Financial Review, April-May 2011.

Related posts:
Book Review: The Art of Action
The goal of strategy

Book Review: Turn the Ship Around!

Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders by L. David Marquet is ”a call to action, a manifesto” for turning followers into leaders (p. xxx) . At its core is the belief that ”we can all be leaders, in fact, it’s best when we all are leaders” (p. xxvii). David Marquet’s view is that ”we all have what it takes” to be leaders, and that ”we all need to use our leadership abilities in every aspect of our work life” (p. xxvii). His vision is a ”world where we all find satisfaction in our work”, and where ”every human being is intellectually engaged, motivated, and self-inspired” (p. xxx). Treating people as followers means that ”a vast untapped human potential is lost” (p. 15).

Never ever give an order
David Marquet is the unusual submarine captain who ”vowed … never to give an order, any order” (p. 81). Eventually everything was turned upside-down on the ship. Instead of ”one captain giving orders to 134 men” there was ”135 independent, energetic, emotionally committed and engaged men” thinking about what needed to be done, finding ”ways to do it right” (p. 84). This turned all men ”into active leaders as opposed to passive followers” (p. 84). Through ”trial-and-error, the crew arrived at a body of practices and principles that were dramatically more effective” than those within the traditional leader-follower model (p. 204).

Decision-making, competence, and clarity
The book covers the ”leader-leader practices” that were introduced (p. 49).  These practices are divided into three parts which are related to decision-making, competence, and clarity of purpose. The first step in turning the whole crew into leaders is to delegate the ”decision-making authority, as much as is comportable, and then adding a pinch more” (p. 59). David Marquet discovered that as the ”ability to make decisions” increased, the crew also need more ”intimate technical knowledge on which to base those decisions” (p. 128). Furthermore, he discovered that it ”becomes increasingly important that everyone throughout the organization understands what the organization is about” (p. 161). If this ”clarity of purpose is misunderstood”, then ”suboptimal decisions will be made” (p. 161).

Leadership at every level!
The core of the leader-leader model is ”giving employees control over what they work on and how they work” (p. 206). The two enabling pillars are ”competence and clarity” (p. 206). Here are some of the practices described in the book:

  • Delegate the decision-making as far as possible
  • Act your way into the new thinking
  • Short, early conversations make efficient work
  • Learn everywhere, all the time
  • Specify goals, not methods
  • Achieve excellence, don’t just avoid mistakes
  • Build trust and take care of each other
  • Encourage questioning over obedience

Emancipation results when ”we are recognizing the inherent genius, energy, and creativity in all people, and allowing those talents to emerge” (p. 213). It’s a great and very inspiring book!

Taylorism in Druckerian clothes

Gianpiero Petriglieri argues that Technology Is Not Threatening Our Humanity — We Are in the 30 October 2015 issue of the Harvard Business Review. Petriglieri writes that while ”technology often augments leaders’ power … it is humanity that keeps power in check”, and that ”we would do well to revisit a fierce debate that shaped one of the most widespread technologies of the last century—management”.

Frederick Taylor had the view that ”the function of managers was to increase efficiency and maximize their enterprises’ returns”, while Peter Drucker had ”a humanistic view of managers’ function in the enterprise”. Petriglieri warns us that once ”all we care about is efficiency, and humanism is reduced to a matter of style, the real threat comes from the smart machines that we have become, not from those we will build”. If ”humanism is a strategy for … instrumental aims” then ”all we are left with is Taylorism in Druckerian clothes”.

Book Review: Team of Teams

Teams of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by Stanley McChrystal, with Tantum Collins, David Silverman, and Chris Fussell, is a book about the restructuring of the Joint Special Operations Task Force from the ground up. The book is built upon the authors ”personal experiences”, together with their ”reviews” of ”published studies” and ”interviews” with ”experts in a wide variety of fields” (p. 5). The authors ”lay out the symptoms”, the ”root causes”, and the ”approaches” that they and others have found effective (p. 5). I think the book contains a useful blend of practical and theoretical knowledge.

Volatililty
The authors describe in detail throughout the book how they restructured the Task Force ”from the ground up on principles of extremely transparent information sharing … and decentralized decision-making authority”. In short, how the Task Force became ”a team of teams” (p. 20). The Task Force was an ”awesome machine”, but it was ”too slow, too static, and too specialized” to deal with its volatile environment (p. 81). Key to the necessary transformation was to understand what made the ”constituent teams adaptable, and how this differed from the structure and culture” of the Task Force at large (p. 92).

Trust & Purpose
The teams in the Task Force are forged ”methodically and deliberately” (p. 94). The purpose of the training is to ”build superteams” (p. 96). The training is all about ”developing trust and the ability to adapt within a small group” (p. 97). This is done because ”teams whose members know one another deeply perform better” (p. 98). Teams which are ”fused by trust and purpose” are much more potent, and ”can improvise a coordinated response to dynamic, real-time developments” (p. 98). ”Team members tackling complex environments must all grasp the team’s situation and overarching purpose” (p. 99). The physical hardship during the training “is a test, not of strength, but of commitment” (p. 99). Furthermore, “failure is always punished” (p. 97). The trainees who make it through the training ”believe in the cause” (p. 100), and are prepared “placing their lives at risk … alongside committed patriots” (p. 100).

Oneness & Adaptivity
The competitive advantage of teams is “their ability to think and act as a seamless unit” (p. 105). This is sometimes called “joint cognition” (p. 105). The point is that “a thorough integration of minds … can unlock far more complex solutions than a set of individual thinkers” (p. 105). Great teams are more like “awesome organisms” than “awesome machines” (p. 120). However, the challenge is that the larger the organization gets, the “harder it is for it to think and act as one” (p. 124). Team dynamics are “powerful but delicate” (p. 127), and teams are “much trickier to build and maintain than we like to think” (p. 127). Accomplishing a true “team of teams” involved “a complete reversal of the conventional approach to information sharing, delineation of roles, decision-making authority, and leadership” (p. 131).

Information Sharing
The transformation of the Task Force “demanded the adoption of extreme transparency” in order to provide “every team with an unobstructed, constantly up-to-date view of the rest of the organization” (p. 163). The critical first step was to share the “information widely” and be generous with “people and resources” (p. 167). The thinking was that the value of the “information and the power that came with it were greater the more it was shared” (p. 167). The “Operations & Intelligence brief” became the “heart muscle of the organism” and the “pulse by which it would live or die” (p. 164). The O&I, as it was commonly called, was a daily meeting “held by the leadership … to integrate everything the command is doing with everything it knows” (p. 164). Over time, the O&I began to “develop its own gravitational pull as more and more groups recognized what the speed and transparency … could offer” (p. 167). Individual and organizational “arrogance manifested itself in subtle ways as people tried to assert or maintain their preeminence”, but “eventually people either produced or faded in importance” (p. 166).

Relationships
Information sharing was just a start. The next step was to strengthen the relationships “among the Task Force’s internal teams”, and between “the Task Force and the partner agencies” (p. 180). Slowly, “personal relationships” and “bonds of trust” grew between the teams (pp. 175—177). “Bonds of trust began to form” and “began to overcome internal competition and barriers to cooperation” (p. 180). The “new architecture” consisted of “extreme participatory transparency” and the “creation of strong internal connectivity across teams” (p. 197). Paradoxically, the “seemingly instantaneous communications … slowed rather than accelerated decision making” (p. 202).

Decision-making
The practice of relaying decision up and down the chain of command is based on “the assumption … that the cost of the delay is less than the cost of the errors produced by removing a supervisor” (p. 209). In reality, “the risks of acting too slowly were higher than the risks of letting competent people make judgment calls” (p. 209). Authority was pushed down “until it made us uncomfortable” (p. 214). On the whole, this initiative “met with tremendous success” (p. 214). “More important, and more surprising, we found that, even as speed increased and we pushed authority further down, the quality of decisions actually went up” (p. 214). One reason for this was that “an individual who makes a decision becomes more invested in its outcome” (p. 215). Another reason was that “leadership simply did not understand what was happening on the ground as thoroughly as the people who were there” (p. 215). “Individuals and teams closest to the problem, armed with unprecedented levels of insights from across the network, offer the best ability to decide and act decisively” (p. 219).

Leadership
The role of the senior leader changed. The role “was no longer that of [a] controlling puppet master, but rather that of an empathetic crafter of culture” (p. 222). The focus shifted to “shaping the ecosystem” (p. 226). “Thinking out loud” and openly admitting “I don’t know” was “accepted, even appreciated” (p. 229). “Asking for opinions and advice showed respect”. The “overall message reinforced by the O&I was that we have a problem that only we can understand and solve” (p. 229). “A leader’s words matter, but actions ultimately do more to reinforce or undermine the implementation of a team of teams” (p. 232).

Conclusions
The authors emphasize that “there is no such thing as an organizational panacea—the details will always be different for different people, places, and objectives—but” they ”believe that” their ”model provides a good blueprint” (p. 249). I think something really important has to be at stake in order to be able to turn an organization into a team of teams. I also think you need to have true teams in place, and not just teams in name. The way of forging teams described in the book is extreme to say the least. And I think the role of senior leadership can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing if senior leadership really understands—and accepts—the central tenets outlined in the book. It’s a curse if senior leadership doesn’t, because then the team of teams will be turned into a “command of teams”, or just an old-fashioned “command” (p. 129). The book is well worth reading!

S. McChrystal, T. Collins, D. Silverman, & C. Fussell, Team of Teams, p. 129.

Related book review:
The Art of Action by Stephen Bungay

Dee Hock on control

Life is not about control. It’s not about getting. It’s not about having. It’s not about knowing. It’s not even about being. Life is eternal, perpetual becoming, or it is nothing. Becoming is not a thing to be known, commanded, or controlled. It is a magnificent, mysterious odyssey to be experienced.1

… I have long puzzled where mechanistic organizational concepts originated, and why we are so blind to their reality. Their genesis reaches back to Aristotle, Plato, and even beyond. However, it was primarily Newtonian science and Cartesian philosophy that fathered those concepts, giving rise to the machine metaphor. That metaphor has since dominated our thinking, the nature of our organizations, and the structure of industrial society to a degree few fully realize.2

For nearly three centuries we have worked diligently to structure society in accordance with that concept, believing that with ever more reductionist scientific knowledge, ever more specialization, ever more technology, ever more efficiency, ever more linear education, ever more rules and regulations, ever more hierarchal command and control, we could learn to engineer organizations in which we could pull a lever at one place, get a precise result at another, and know with certainty which lever to pull or for which result. Never mind that human beings must be made to behave as cogs and wheels in the process.3

The first and paramount responsibility of anyone who purports to manage is to manage self—one’s own integrity, character, ethics, knowledge, wisdom, temperament, words, and acts. It is a never-ending, difficult, oft-shunned task. The reason is not complicated. It is ignored precisely because it is incredibly more difficult than prescribing and controlling the behavior of others.4

Everyone is a born leader. Who can deny that from the moment of birth they were leading parents, siblings, and companions? Watch a baby cry and the parents jump. We were all leaders until we were sent to school to be commanded, controlled, and taught to do likewise.5

People are not “things” to be manipulated, labeled, boxed, bought and sold. Above all else, they are not “human resources.” We are entire human beings, containing the whole of the evolving universe. We must examine the concept of superior and subordinate with increasing skepticism. We must examine the concept of management and labor with new beliefs. We must examine the concept of leader and follower with new perspectives. Above all else, we must examine the nature of organizations that demand such distinctions with new consciousness.6

Only in a harmonious, oscillating dance of both competition and cooperation can the extremes of control and chaos be avoided and peaceful, constructive societal order be found.7

In organizations of the future, it will be much more important to have a clear sense of purpose and sound principles within which many specific, short-term objectives can be quickly achieved, than a long-range plan with fixed, measurable objectives. Such plans often lead to futile attempts to control events to make them fit the plan, rather than understanding events so as to advance by all means in the desired direction.8

In organizations of the future the centuries-old effort to eliminate judgment and intuition, art if you will, from the conduct of institutions will change. Organizations have too long aped the traditional mechanistic, military model wherein obedience to orders is paramount and individual behavior or independent thinking frowned upon, if not altogether forbidden. In organizations of the future it will be necessary to have people in every position capable of discernment, of making fine judgments and acting sensibly upon them. The industrial age trend toward stultifying, degrading, rote work that gradually reduces people to the compliant, subordinate behavior one expects from a well-trained horse will not continue.9

It extends far beyond a factory worker on an assembly line. Vast white-collar bureaucracies exist everywhere, with mountains of procedures manuals depressing minds, avalanches of directives burying judgment, forests of reports obscuring perception, floods of studies inundating initiative, oceans of committees submerging responsibility and drowning decisions. You know what I mean. You have endlessly suffered through it and, worse yet, may be inflicting it on others. It has created a society of people alienated from their work and from the organizations in which they are enmeshed. Far too much ingenuity, effort, and intelligence go into circumventing the mindless, sticky web of rules and regulations by which people are needlessly bound.10

Notes:
1 Dee Hock, One From Many: VISA and the Rise of Chaordic Organization, (Berrett-Koehler, 2005), p. 7.
2 Ibid., p. 37.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid., p. 48.
5 Ibid., p. 55.
6 Ibid.
7 Ibid., p. 226.
8 Ibid.
9 Ibid., p. 227.
10 Ibid.

Related posts:
Dee Hock in his own words
Dee Hock on rules
Agile software development in the 1970s

A wide-ranging hangout with Simon Robinson

Simon Robinson, co-author of Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter, shares in this wide-ranging hangout his view on holonomics, wholeness, leadership, change, human values, and the dynamics of seeing deeply. Simon says that there’s lot of talk about collaboration, co-creation, sustainability, and sharing, but that these are just words if there’s no authenticity and a lived presence of human values. I fully agree.

Related posts:
Book Review: Holonomics
Book Review: First Steps to Seeing

What if control is inappropriate?

My conclusion after having read Brian Robertson’s new book on Holacracy and Gerard Endenburg’s first book on Sociocracy is that neither Holacracy nor Sociocracy replace Command & Control (C&C). Both use C&C within limits.

This triggered feedback from Holacracy people that the Lead Link Role doesn’t manage day-to-day work and doesn’t manage others, but that there is definitely control in Holacracy. All Roles ”have the authority to control and regulate” their own Domains (Holacracy Constitution v4.1, 1.4 Authority Over Domains). There is definitely control in Sociocracy too.

My follow-up question is: What if control in itself is inappropriate?

Here is an interesting article on The ”Command and Control” Military Gets Agile by Daniel Mezick, which contains references to writers within the military who challenge control themselves. Key points are that complex situations cannot be controlled, and control is in fact an emergent property, not an option to be selected. Here are a few quotes:

The word “control” is inappropriate … because it sends the wrong message. It implies that complex situations can be controlled, with the implication that there is the possibility of an engineering type solution. … But this is a dangerous oversimplification. The best that one can do is to create a set of conditions that improves the probability that a desirable (rather than an undesirable) outcome will occur and to change the conditions when what is expected is not occurring. Control is in fact an emergent property, not an option to be selected. … The argument that … commanders in the military or… management in industry do not have control creates cognitive dissonance. Nevertheless, this is undoubtedly the case. The widespread belief that we have control is merely an illusion, and a dangerous one at that. The literature on complex adaptive systems explains why the notion of control as a verb is misguided.1

…any Complex Adaptive System…cannot be controlled or ruled: a CAS will simply find ways of working around the rules if the context in which it formed remains viable. … The basis of these … systems of working … are based upon very simple trusts — not rules …
Essentially, the tension is … between trusts and rules.
2

Attempts to control complex systems … tend to be pointless at best or destructive at worst.3

And here are quotes from some non-military references:

For life, where freedom of choice in acting exists, control and prediction is impossible, attempts to control are destructive to life and lead to chaos. If we examine the causes of our failing institutions, it is easy to show that attempts to control them, violating normal processes of life, makes them fail.4

We talk and write about leaders and managers being in control of organizations. In the reality of our experience, however, no one can control the interplay of intentions, because they cannot control what everyone else in every other organization is choosing and doing. Consequently, no one can choose or be in control of what happens.5

For nearly three centuries we have worked diligently to structure society in accordance with that concept, believing that with ever more reductionist scientific knowledge, ever more specialization, ever more technology, ever more efficiency, ever more linear education, ever more rules and regulations, ever more hierarchal command and control, we could learn to engineer organizations in which we could pull a lever at one place, get a precise result at another, and know with certainty which lever to pull or for which result. Never mind that human beings must be made to behave as cogs and wheels in the process.6

Notes:
1 David S. Alberts, The International C2 Journal | Vol 1, No 1, 2007, pp. 15—16.
2 Simon Reay Atkinson & James Moffat, The Agile Organization: From Informal Networks to Complex Effects and Agility, pp. 5—6, 7.
3 Stanley McChrystal, Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World, (Penguin, 2015), p. 68.
4 Norm Hirst, Towards a Science of Life as Creative Organisms, (Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, vol. 4, nos. 1-2, 2008), p. 93.
5 Ralph Stacey, Dialogic Organization Development: The Theory and Practice of Transformational Change / Gervase R. Bushe & Robert J. Marshak, editors, (Berett-Koehler, 2015), p. 153.
6 Dee Hock, One From Many: VISA and the Rise of Chaordic Organization, (Berrett-Koehler, 2005), p. 37

Related posts:
The big misconception in sociocracy
Dee Hock on control
Harrison Owen on control
Fritz Perls on control
The phenomenology of sociocracy
Traditional vs. Sociocratic vs. Holacratic Command & Control
Holacracy vs. Sociocracy
Book Review: Holacracy by Brian Robertson
Book Review: Sociocracy by Gerard Endenburg
The phenomenology of sociocracy
Machines are allonomic, living organisms are autonomic
Autognomics: Radical Self-Knowing
Self-organization is the real operating system
Emergence is simply what life does
Empowerment is a red herring
Pre-conditions for self-organization
What if the organization is a living system?
Carl Rogers on person-centered leadership

Soul of Business

NicAskewBusinessSoul
The causes of much of what happens in our lives lie far deeper than we imagine. The Soul Biographies by Nic Askew look beneath the surface of our lives, work and society at an unusual depth. And in doing so, the films open our eyes wide to what people and organizations might become.

Managing without soul

Henry Mintzberg writes about the epidemic of managing without soul

Managing without soul has become an epidemic in society: managers who specialize in killing cultures, at the expense of human engagement.

I’ve been in the business of studying organizations for so long that I can often walk into a place and sense soul, or no soul, in an instant.

… and asks …

Why do we build so many great institutions only to let them wither under the control of people who should never have been allowed to manage anything?

Yes, why?

The uncovering of the U-process

TAI Presents Joseph Jaworski who tells the story about the uncovering of the U-process. The presentation is divided into the seven videos:

Related videos:
ZIN monastry for meaning and work invites Joseph Jaworski
Joseph Jaworski speaks to the to the staff of Berrett-Koehler about his history, perspective, and new book Source

The Elements

The Elements with Joseph Jaworski is an interesting series of short videos on:

The goal of strategy

The following is from Dan Gray’s blog post about Stephen Bungay’s book The Art of Action: How Leaders Close the Gaps between Plans, Actions and Results. Stephen Bungay is a military historian who has examined the nineteenth-century Prussian army. There are some unexpected strategy lessons here. At least for me.

The goal of strategy, according to Stephen Bungay, is to reduce three gaps — those of

  1. knowledge (what we would know in an ideal world vs. what we actually know),
  2. alignment (what we would like people to do vs. what they actually do), and
  3. effects (what we expect our actions to achieve vs. what they actually achieve).

Ultimately, this boils down to:

  1. Deciding what really matters. You can’t create perfect plans, so don’t even try. Formulate strategy as an intent rather than a plan.
  2. Granting people autonomy to act. Recognize the distinction between intent (what we want to achieve and why) and action (what to do about it and how). The more alignment you have around intent, the more autonomy can be granted around action.
  3. Giving people space and support. Don’t try to predict the effects your actions will have, because you can’t. Your actions are subject to the independent wills of multiple agents. Encourage people to observe what is actually happening and adapt their actions accordingly to realize the overall intent.

All this might seem obvious, but is nevertheless worth emphasizing.

Related posts:
Book Review: The Art of Action
Principles for collaborative leadership

A 2500-year-old perspective on rules

When the greatness of the Tao is present,
action arises from one’s own heart.
When the greatness of the Tao is absent,
action comes from the rules
of ”kindness and justice.”
If you need rules to be kind and just,
if you act virtuous,
this is a sure sign that virtue is absent.
Thus we see the great hypocrisy.
When kinship falls into discord,
piety and rites of devotion arise.
When the country falls into chaos,
official loyalists will appear;
patriotism is born.

—Lao-Tzu, Tao Te Ching, 18th Verse

Lao-Tzu’s 2500-year-old message is that you don’t need any rules to be kind and just. Law and order may seem to be helpful, even necessary, but there is a difference between being kind and just, and feeling the obligation to be kind and just. Also, there is a difference between not stealing because it’s against the law, and truly respecting the rights of others. The idea extends further. Let your actions be guided by your heart. Don’t act virtuous. Be virtue.

A 2500-year-old perspective on leadership

With the greatest leader above them,
people barely know one exists.
Next comes one whom they love and praise.
Next comes one whom they fear.
Next comes one whom they despise and defy.
When a leader trusts no one,
no one trusts him.
The great leader speaks little.
He never speaks carelessly.
He works without self-interest
and leaves no trace.
When all is finished, the people say
“We did it ourselves.”
—Lao-Tzu, Tao Te Ching, 17th Verse

Lao-Tzu gives us a 2500-year-old perspective on leadership. Great leaders create an environment where people can lead themselves! They stay in the background, making themselves as invisible as possible, opening space for people to choose for themselves. One leadership option is to use love, but the drawback is that praise of the leader creates dependency to that leader. Another option is to use fear, but the drawback is that the leader’s influence is based on threat. A third option is to make people despise you, but the drawback is that they will defy all that you say and stand for. The best leadership option is to trust and have faith in your people. Then, they will be able to say, ”We did it ourselves.

Related post: Principles for collaborative leadership

How will companies approach the management challenge?

Here is a visionary tweet by Kenneth Mikkelsen on how companies in the future will approach the management challenge. The businesses will:

  • Have a higher purpose beyond making profit
  • Hire people who are passionate about this higher purpose
  • See all shareholders as equally important
  • Cultivate long-term relationships with suppliers
  • Have open doors and be transparent with information
  • Encourage decision-making and autonomy all the way down
  • Pay well, provide excellent benefits and be generous with training/development
  • Volunteer services to the community
  • Narrow the gap in pay