Etikettarkiv: Culture

There is another way

Here’s an excerpt (my emphasis in bold) from Russel Means’s most famous speech in 1980.1 There’s something deeper than just a rejection of Marxism from this radical. He has an entirely different worldview compared to all ”isms”:

“… Newton … “revolutionized” physics and the so-called natural sciences Descartes did the same thing with culture. John Locke did it with politics, and Adam Smith did it with economics. Each one of these “thinkers” took a piece of the spirituality of human existence and converted it into code, an abstraction. … Each of these intellectual revolutions served to abstract the European mentality even further, to remove the wonderful complexity and spirituality from the universe and replace it with a logical sequence: one, two, three. Answer!

The European materialist tradition of despiritualizing the universe is very similar to the mental process which goes into dehumanizing another person. … it makes it all right to kill and otherwise destroy other people. … In terms of the despiritualization of the universe, the mental process works so that it becomes virtuous to destroy the planet. …

There is another way.It is the way that knows that humans do not have the right to degrade Mother Earth, that there are forces beyond anything the European mind has conceived, that humans must be in harmony with all relations or the relations will eventually eliminate the disharmony. … There is no need for a revolutionary theory to bring this about; it’s beyond human control.

All European tradition, Marxism included, has conspired to defy the natural order of all things. Mother Earth has been abused, the powers have been abused, and this cannot go on forever. No theory can alter that simple fact. Mother Earth will retaliate, the whole environment will retaliate, … That’s revolution. …

What I’m putting out here is … a cultural proposition. … To cling to capitalism and Marxism and all other “isms” is simply to remain within European culture. … As a fact, this constitutes a choice. … retain your sense of reality.

Notes:
1 Revolution and Amrican Indians: “Marxism is as Alien to My Clture as Capitalism”, 17 October 2010. (Accessed 5 April 2016)

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

Lasse Berg om san-folkens egalitära kultur

I sin bok Gryning över Kalahari: hur människan blev människa skriver Lasse Berg om san-folken och deras kultur (min betoning i fetstil):

Hos san-folken råder en strängt egalitär kultur. 1

Samförstånd är det som gäller i alla san-grupper. … Men på samma sätt som jämlikhet inte betyder likhet, så kan samförstånd inte likställas med demokrati. Visserligen finns det inget auktoritärt eller formaliserat ledarskap, … men det är inte heller så att man röstar sig fram till någon sorts majoritetsbeslut. Vuxna och ungdomar samtalar om det som behöver bestämmas kollektivt … Men man diskuterar inte tills alla är överens utan tills man hittar ett beslut som ingen motsätter sig tillräckligt starkt. Naturligtvis väger olika röster olika tungt, beroende på speciell kunskap eller erfarenhet, när det gäller att forma denna allmänna samsyn. Ledarskapet är auktoritativt, inte auktoritärt. Det sociala trycket att komma överens är starkt, för att uttrycka det försiktigt. Samarbetsvilja har mycket hög kulturell status. 2

Men tvister uppstår naturligtvis. De är oftast av personlig art. … Det allmänt accepterade sättet att lösa konflikter är inte som i vår kultur att så tidigt som möjligt klargöra motsättningar och lyfta fram dem till diskussion. Istället utmärks san-kulturen av … utpräglad konflikträdsla. Man föredrar … att i första hand skämta bort problemet. Helst i elegant metaforisk form så att ingen tappar ansiktet eller blir utskämd. En spänd situation kan plötsligt punkteras av ett skämt som får lyssnarna att formligen vrida sig av skratt. Gränsen mellan skratt och vrede är ofta nästan osynlig. Det betyder inte att man inte tagit det hela på allvar, utan att man behandlat tvisten i inlindad form. 3

Noter:
1 Lasse Berg, Gryning över Kalahari: hur människan blev människa, Ordfront Stockholm, 2005, s. 256.
2 Ibid, s. 261.
3 Ibid.

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?

Ett exempel på värdegrund


För några år sedan hörde jag en föreläsning av Nirvan Richter, grundare av Norrgavel. Föredraget handlade dels om hantverket i möbelsnickeri, dels om Norrgavels värdegrund. Nirvan Richter är en färgstark person med starka värderingar. Norrgavels värdegrund är tredelad och har ett humanistiskt, ett ekologiskt och ett existensiellt perspektiv:

  • Humanistisk – om människan: Ambitionen är alltid att göra möblerna så fina som det någonsin går. Möblerna är bruksföremål som skall vara funktionella och praktiska, men de skall oockså göra vardagslivet enkelt och vackert. Mottot är okonstlad enkelhet.
  • Ekologisk – om naturen: Konsekvent kretsloppstänkandet utgör själva grunden i sättet att göra möblerna. Användningen av förnyelsebara råmaterial handlar inte enbart om kretsloppstänaknde utan har också med upplevelsen att göra. Äggoljetemperans doft. Den fysiska känslan när man stryker handen över en såpad träyta. Naturmaterial åldras som regel med behag. Ytterligare en ekologisk aspekt är funktionen. Möblerna ska tåla att användas dagligen under lång tid.
  • Existentiell – om evigheten: Vad är meningen med allt? Vem är jag? Vad är egentligen viktigt i livet? Livsviktigt, alltså! Ett barns födelse. En anhörigs död. Att få vara frisk. På ett sätt är det livsviktigt precis hur möblerna är utformade och ur en annan synvinkel är det fullkomligt oväsentligt. Möblerna skall inte dominera livet utan vara en bakgrund till det. Inspiration kommer från den japanska traditionen och amerikansk shaker. När möblerna görs åt Gud duger enbart det bästa.

Craftsmanship and meaning making

”Meaning is created through a craft approach to life.”
— Alan Moore

Here is the story about the transformation of Gränsfors Bruk into an innovative, sustainable, and lightweight company. It’s a story of transforming a company from a mass production-style manufacturer, to a small scale, high quality shop with skilled, dedicated, and engaged co-workers. It’s a story about another way of doing business based on values that manifest themselves in the whole company and its products. It’s a story which gives hope for small scale, sustainable ways of running businesses. It’s a story of craftsmanship.

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

The egalitarian Vikings

What you may not know is that the Vikings were surprisingly egalitarian. When settling in Iceland, they founded one of the world’s early democracies. The entire community was invited to the debating hall to thrash out the hot topics of the day, followed by a vote, with each person’s opinion carrying equal weight. Legend has it that, when the Prince of Franks sent an envoy from southern Europe to negotiate with the Vikings, the puzzled envoy returned confused and disheartened, complaining, ”I couldn’t figure out who to talk with. They said they were all the chiefs.”
    The countries most influenced by the Vikings consistently rank as some of the most egalitarian and consensus-oriented cultures in the world today. So it is no surprise that, even today, when you walk into a meeting room in Copenhagen or Stockholm, it is often impossible to spot the boss.1

Notes:
1 Erin Meyer, The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business, (PublichAffairs, 2014), p. 128.

Related post:
The Culture Map

The Culture Map

Cultural as well as individual differences impact what we see, think, and do. Erin Meyer has written The Culture Map. The culture map’s eight scales and their metrics represent common cultural differences which impact teamwork and collaboration:

  • Communicating: Is the communication precise, simple, explicit and clear (low-context) or sophisticated, nuanced and layered (high-context)?
  • Evaluating: Is there a preference for frank (direct) or diplomatic (indirect) negative feedback?
  • Persuading: Are thought patterns balanced holistically (concept-first) or specifically (application-first)?
  • Leading: Is the degree of respect and deference shown to authority figures low (egalitarian) or high (hierarchical) ?
  • Deciding: Is there a tendency to build group agreement (consensual) before making decisions or are decisions made unilaterally (top-down)?
  • Trusting: Is trust built cognitively through work (task-based) or is it based on strong affective connections (relationship-based)?
  • Disagreeing: Is the tolerance for open disagreement high (confrontational) or low (avoids confrontation)?
  • Scheduling: Is there a preference for working in a structured, linear fashion (linear time) or of being flexible and reactive (flexible time)?

See also:
Inglehart–Welzel Cultural Map

Related post:
The egalitarian Vikings

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

Med holländska ögon på svensk företagskultur

I SvD 2014-11-03 jämför Callette Terhaerdt kulturskillnaderna mellan holländska och svenska företag. Det finns två stora skillnader. Holländska företag tar beslut snabbare och är mer hierarkiska än de svenska.

Holländare är öppnare, direktare, snabbare och intensivare än svenskar. Här [i Sverige] är folk mer tillbakadragna och allt tar längre tid men beslut kan å andra sidan då vara mer genomtänkta.

De flesta svenska företag har en platt organisation där chefen är en i teamet. I Holland är de flesta företag mer hierarkiska. En bestämmer och alla följer efter.

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.

Book Review: Culture Shock

CultureShockCulture Shock: A Handbook For 21st Century Business by Will McInnes is a brilliant title on a book which is about the culture shock of moving from the traditional autocratic way of doing business to a democratic approach where there is true participation, openness, fairness, and connectedness. The perspective of Culture Shock is that an organization is made up of people, rather than resources (although human). This means that for an organization to thrive it needs a very clear purpose, which creates meaning way beyond financial results.

The book resonates strongly with me. Will McInnes eloquently puts words on what I think and feel. I fully agree with him that a democratic workplace makes business-sense, society-sense, and people-sense. I think he is right in saying that the huge potential lies in the distribution of power through shared decision making. An inclusive, participative, approach to running our organizations has a “direct knock-on effect” on the way the organization performs. We all know innately that “being bad to people is being bad to the bottom line”.

There are a few areas where I have somewhat different perspectives than Will, but that is okay. We are talking about democracy and being authentic here. One example is the pace of change. Will thinks the new business culture is going to be mainstream within five or ten years. I do hope so, but I think the change we are talking about will take much more time. We are talking about changing domination structures. This change is a culture shock for those in power.

For the rest of us, it is an opportunity to be set free, to be allowed to thrive and show up fully as a human being even in the workplace. And here is the other culture shock. The emotional transparency required to be fully you is a demanding shift. And maybe this is why we have allowed our real lives to be different from our working lives for so long?

So, to give us the best chance of success, we need to step in and support each other. What is so nice is that there are people out there who have actually walked the alternative path for some time now. Will McInnes is one of them.

Den svenska chefen är djupt rotad i svensk historia

Den svenska chefstypen är speciell och djupt rotad i svensk historia hävdar Gunnar Wetterberg, Sacos samhällspolitiske chef, i Cheferna – en svensk kulturtillgång. Den svenska chefens främsta styrka är prestigelösheten.

Gunnar Wetterberg härleder det prestigelösa svenska chefskapet dels från statsmannen Axel Oxenstierna som blev svensk rikskansler 1612, dels från det unikt jämlika bondesamhället. I Sverige finns ett slags brist på respekt mot överheten som gör att man vågar säga ifrån.

Att inte ha en överdriven respekt för chefen är en av våra viktigaste konkurrensfördelar.

Se även: Prestigelöst svenskt ledarskap