Kategoriarkiv: People

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

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 Elements

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

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

Original wisdom

Robert Wolff has spent a lifetime with indigenous people from many parts of the world. He lived with the aboriginal Sng’oi of Malaysia during the years he spent in Malaysia as a government psychologist. He fell in love with this people and their immense inner dignity, humanity, and sense of connection to all creation. His book Original Wisdom: Stories of an Ancient Way of Knowing takes us back to an older and wiser human time:

”Our being together was not like other social situations I had experienced. We talked—but softly. They did not know how to compete for attention. A few words now and then were all that were spoken—a question, or a comment, a simple answer. Long silences.”

”I remember all our discussions as slowly paced, thoughtful, and strangely orderly, as though people took turns. I cannot remember ever hearing two people speak at the same time. There was always that little pause when everyone looks in the middle distance, then one person will speak as if he or she were the designated speaker, though nobody had said anything. I thought about this new way of talking for many years; I could not let it go. I could not imagine that they were telepathic, but they certainly seemed to know each other’s thoughts.”

”But like learning to ride a bicycle, once one knows how to let go and be—observing form within, as I thought of it, and listening without judging, categorizing, or analyzing—once one knows, it is not difficult to get back there.”

”I was now beginning to realize that the difference among peoples is not a difference of language, but rather how they experience what is real. That is what is important.”

Reference:
Robert Wolff, Original Wisdom: Stories of an Ancient Way of Knowing, pages 87, 116, 123, 145.

Beliefs influence results

Peggy Holman writes in Open Space Technology: A User’s NON-Guide, pp. 48—50, that different methods can work in a given situation but what matters most are the beliefs of the facilitator.

My belief (and I don’t have sufficient empirical evidence for it to be more than an opinion) is that while method may be one factor in success or failure the beliefs of the facilitator are an even greater factor.

The core beliefs of the facilitator influence their actions and the unspoken cues they send. Are there methods that are better fits in different circumstances? You bet. And yet, I can take the similar circumstances and put different facilitators in them using the same method and get results with widely differing impact. Further, I believe I could take the same facilitator, use different methods and get similar results. I don’t have empirical evidence for this. It is an opinion reached by observation of, discussion with, and reading of comments from a variety of people using a variety of methods. I think what started me down this path was the deep conviction of virtually every expert that their way was the most effective.

My untested theory is the factors involved in success include sponsor beliefs (particularly around their passion for and audaciousness of the desired future, sense of invitation to participate, generosity of spirit), facilitator beliefs (particularly around people’s capacity to act wisely for the good of the whole as well as themselves), and method.

When there is a perception that people need to be led, then they will prove that out. If the perception is that participants will figure things out for themselves, they somehow do.

Wild Mind

Bill Plotkin introduces in his book Wild Mind—A Field Guide to the Human Psyche a way to understand the human psyche. While acknowledging that reality is always more complex and nuanced than any map, he provides two diagrams in the book: One on how we relate to ourselves, and the other on how others see us.

The main messages in the book are that:

  1. The key to healing and growing is cultivating our wholeness.
  2. There’s a vital relationship between cultivating personal wholeness and building life-enhancing cultures.
  3. There are three imperatives of any healthy culture: To protect and nurture the vitality and diversity of its environment, to create and revitalize cultural practices for the well-being and fulfillment of its people, and to protect and foster the wholeness of its individual members.

The book is full of experiential practices. Additional experiential practices can be found here.

Principles for our journey from self to Self, from we to We

As human beings, we are on an open-ended life journey full of breakdowns and breakthroughs. It’s a journey that is about becoming who we really are. This journey requires us to move although we cannot fully see. It takes courage to leap into the unknown.

Here is a summary of twelve principles and practices that can help help us in our individual journey ”from self to Self, from me to We”. They are from the book Leading from the Emerging Future by Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaufer, pp. 169—172:

  1. Practice, don’t preach. Start by listening. Listen to others, to yourself, and to the whole. Listen to what life calls you to do.
  2. Observe, observe, observe. Let the ”data” talk to you—through your open mind, heart, and will. The impact of this deep observation is profound.
  3. Connect to your intention as an instrument. The more you can connect to what is essential for you, and clarify what you want to be in service of, the better you can act to bring the future into being.
  4. When the crack opens up, stay with it—connect and act from the now. When opportunity presents itself, act from what wants to emerge. Say yes, then do it, before asking whether it’s possible.
  5. Follow your heart—do what you love, love what you do. It’s the only reliable way to connect to your way, your emerging future path. Otherwise you are in danger of living someone else’s life.
  6. Always be in dialogue with the universe. The larger context that surrounds you always provides useful feedback. Listen and evolve your idea based on the feedback.
  7. Create a holding space of deep listening that supports your journey. The most important leadership tool is your Self. Filter out all the noise and focus on what’s essential for you. Do it every day.
  8. Iterate, iterate, iterate. Practice and adapt what’s emerging. Explore the new by doing.
  9. Notice the crack to the field of the future. All change takes place in a context. Explore the edges of the system and the self at these edges. Sense the emerging future.
  10. Use different language with different stakeholders. Be multilingual. Single-focus approaches are almost certain to fail. Involve all who are needed.
  11. If you want to change others, you need to be open to changing yourself first. Build and strengthen your relationship with others. Be open to change yourself first.
  12. Never give up. Never give up. You are not alone. Always learn from failure. Getting discouraged by failed efforts is a waste of energy. Don’t get trapped in judgment, cynicism, and fear.  Courage connects you with who you really are. Go to the edge and leap into the unknown. You are not alone.

Edward Deci

Edward Deci är en intressant motivationsforskare som tydliggjort skillnaden mellan inre och yttre motivation. Han lyfter fram vikten av inre motivation och beskriver i sin bok hur denna kan förstöras genom t ex yttre kontroll. Det viktiga är inte hur motiverad du är, utan hur du är motiverad!

Carl Rogers

Carl Rogers är upphovsman till den klient-centrerade terapin. Han har ett person-centrerat synsätt som jag finner tilltalande. Hans förhållningssätt har konsekvenser inte bara för terapi utan även för ledarskap generellt. Carl gav ut många böcker under sitt långa liv. En bra sammanställning finns i The Carl Rogers Reader.