Traditional management thinking has not yet fallen out of love with hierarchy and command and control. A key element is the “fundamental attribution error”: “if the person at the top of the organization pyramid knows more, is smarter, or is a better leader than the other workers, then hierarchy leverages that person’s abilities.” For this reason strategy and planning tend to sit at the top of the organisation. Not only does this ignore the collective intelligence of the organisation it results in sub optimization, stasis and structural concretion. The typical fall out includes:
- Employee engagement typically around 13% on average
- Lack of trust between employees and “the management”
- Poor decision making and difficulty in managing complexity
- Negative customer net promoter scores
- Performance management approaches failing to yield positive returns
- Low innovation
- Declining margins and loss of market share
In a post Brexit and Trump world these weaknesses will only lead to greater decline.
However, successful organisations in the new world embrace systems thinking and access employee collective intelligence. This requires:
- The employees recognizing the organisation as a system
- Understanding human motivation
- Looking at the design of the work from the outside in
- Focusing on what is the real purpose and what matters to the customer and all key stakeholders
- Creating the opportunity and giving permission to allow people to redesign the work and self-organize and then get out of their way.
- Allowing people to bring their passion and strengths to doing the work
Service improves, costs reduce, morale increases, and the culture change happens for free. At no time do management do anything to the people, they simply get the people to work on the work.
To make this transition it is not enough to read yet more text books nor carry out site visits. It requires a change in management philosophy. To achieve this management need to engage in some inner leadership before they attempt to change their organisation – the success of the intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervener – as Ghandi said “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”.