Print This Post Print This Post

Mastering healthy tension between them, or surrounding to an ‘impossible alignment’ is a choice for leaders and managers. The worse case is to ignore them, to pretend that they do not exist, Even worse: ‘we need both’, as the default answer.

’Mastering starts with a modest acknowledgement of the existence of the tension. Here they are.

  1. We have management and leadership development focused on number of troupes, a bigger team or teams, a higher department, more people. But we need a management development based on how to influence without the hierarchical authority. Most of our (need for) influence will be directed towards people who do not report to us.
  1. We are taught how to manage resources that one can control: my budget, my piece of the strategic and business plan. A good manager, we are told, is a manager who uses his resources wisely, makes budget and delivers on his budget line. But the real life challenge is how to obtain and use resources we do not control, that do not belong to us. ‘Managing’ resources outside our direct control is the trick.
  1. We put a premium on analytical skills and the ability to ‘focus’. We desperate need synthesis skills and the ability to see the whole picture.
  1. We master the formal organization, and its formal and visible structures such as teams and committees. But most of the good stuff (innovation, spontaneous collaboration, crowd-creation, meaningful conversations) takes place in the informal, invisible organization
  1. We have learnt to ‘manage change’ in a top down way, shooting for a final ‘destination’ or desired state. We assume predictability and linearity. But the organization is not linear, with high unpredictability. Top-down management of change is not working anymore.
  1. To be effective, we are expected to create and sustain predictable, repeatable, reliable, and reproducible processes. But innovation requires ‘unpredictable answers, a ‘beta state’ and restless and unstable processes.
  1. Equally we are told to aim at ‘zero defects’ and ‘doing it right first time’. But innovation requires lots of prototyping, testing and trial and error. I am not talking about ‘products’ necessarily.
  1. Good managers are expected to be quite rational, predictable, reliable and ‘safe’. Reinvention and competitive advantage today requires a lot of unconventional thinking, irrational, unreasonable and contrarian managers that can deliver whilst at the same time disrupting the default position.
  2. We are told that efficient management has no slack, duplication, overlapping of responsibilities, ‘no waste’. Same people praise the 15% ‘free time’ in Google or 3M (or interpretations of them). We don’t tolerate buffer times, we have calendars saturated, but we expect people ‘to think’ and innovate. Innovation needs some ‘inefficient slack ‘in the system. Good management hates it.

Attack plan:

  1. Acknowledge the contradictions
  2. Imagine worlds in each extreme
  3. Imagine living in world A whilst progressing to World B. Progressing, moving, travelling, is a good thing
  4. Chose, then chose and chose again. Most likely, living in both worlds simultaneously (‘we need both’) is conceptually very comfortable but you will not advance an inch
  5. Chose the amount of pain you are prepared to take and live with, by moving to the uncomfortable side. Go to number 2, ‘imagine worlds’
  6. Repeat
  7. Move, don’t get stuck in the analysis
  8. If it’s messy and a bit uncomfortable, it’s OK
  9. If too scary, say this is all a lot of crap and stay where you are. Don’t think. Carry on.
  10. Good luck if in number 9

Keep up with the Daily Thoughts

Twitter Email

Would you like to comment?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To search my website, please use the form below.

  Daily Thoughts

September 27th, 2023

Redefining Talent Wealth

The war on talent McKinsey consultants started it with a book of the same title. By focusing on what it […]

September 8th, 2023

What I Learnt From The Monks: A Little Anthropology Of Leadership And Space On One Page

My friends, monks of a Benedictine monastery in the Highlands, Scotland, spend most of the time in silence. I mean, […]

August 23rd, 2023

Can We Rescue DEI From Its Trap (The Label)?

Most of the problems and challenges in organizations, together with most of the solutions, are behavioural in nature. It’s about […]

August 10th, 2023

Restructuring to force collaboration, is likely to create more anxiety than collaboration. Structural solutions for behavioural problems hardly work.

Sometimes restructuring is done with the intention of solving a collaboration problem. ´A people´ don’t talk to ´B people´; if […]

July 18th, 2023

The ‘Impossible To Disagree With’ School Of Management

‘Good leaders have empathy, respect employees and set the example. If you want to change things, you need to have […]

June 29th, 2023

Large scale change is not small scale change repeated many times. Small wins repeated are lots of small wins.

Large scale change, as a series of cascading small scale interventions (often under the philosophy of ‘small wins’) has dominated […]

June 6th, 2023

Culture change is not long and difficult. But we make it so…

I suppose the question is how long is long and how difficult is difficult? In general, business and organizational consulting have […]

May 19th, 2023

Value is an overused term in business and, as such, it’s becoming meaningless

Value, as usually used, means transactional monetary value. Usually it doesn’t mean intrinsic value, or value per se. For example, […]

May 4th, 2023

The importance of ‘critical thinking.’ Your own critical thinking is more effective at making your workplace better than any generic employee survey.

Build your own Employee Engagement argument for free. You can’t go wrong. Here are three baskets full of concepts: Basket […]

April 21st, 2023

´Busy-Ness’ Is A Trap

I went to a big conference where I was introduced by the chairman like this: “Welcome everybody. Lovely to have […]

April 14th, 2023

Training and culture change. The love affair that ends in tears.

It seems to be very hard for people to get away from the idea that if we just put individuals […]

April 11th, 2023

Teamocracies and Networkracies have different citizens: in-Habitants in team-work, riders in net-work

The old view of the organization is something close to the old concept of a medieval city, where citizenship was […]

April 5th, 2023

3 Ways To Get Approval From Your CEO Or Your Leadership Team

Way number 1: My team has developed these three options, A, B and C. Which one do you want us […]

March 29th, 2023

A Cheat Sheet To Create A Social Movement Tip = to shape organizational culture since both are the same.

Mobilizing people. This is another of the Holy Grails (how many have I said we have?) in management. Whether you […]

March 16th, 2023

Critical Thinking Self-Test: A 10 Point Health Check For Your Organization And Yourself. If any of these are a good picture of your organization, you need to put ‘critical thinking’ in the water supply.

Test yourself, and your organization. Do any of these apply? Doing lots, too fast without thinking. High adrenaline, not sure […]

March 9th, 2023

A culture of safety or a culture of training in safety?

Cultures are created by behaviours becoming the norm. Safety is at the core of many industries. Significant budgets are allocated […]

March 2nd, 2023

Empowerment is an output. If you can visualize it, you can craft it.

The real question is, what do you want to see happening so that you can say ‘people are empowered’? Employee […]

February 24th, 2023

A simple question will jumpstart your organization into change. It will also save you from months of pain spent reorganizing your people and teams.

The following line will short-cut months of (building) ‘alignment’, integration, reorganization, team building, coalition building, and any situation in which Peter, […]

February 20th, 2023

Lead Via Peer-To-Peer Networks – If you don’t lead via peer-to-peer networks, you’re only driving your car in first gear.

Peer-to-peer work, transversal, spontaneous or not, collaboration, peer-to-peer influence, peer-to-peer activities of Viral Change™ champions or activists, all of this is the […]

February 7th, 2023

Write a script, not a strategic plan

If you care about the journey and the place, you need a story. If you have a good, compelling one, […]

January 26th, 2023

3 self-sabotaging mechanisms in organizations

Organizations, like organisms, have embedded mechanisms of survival, of growth and also of self-sabotage. These are 3 self-sabotage systems to […]

January 10th, 2023

Who should be involved in culture change? All inclusive versus going where the energy is.

Many times, in my consulting work, I find myself facing a dilemma: Do I involve many people on the client’s […]

December 23rd, 2022

Tell what won’t change – Introducing 1 of my 40 rules of change

In any change programme that any organization wants to start, they will start by thinking of the things that they […]

December 16th, 2022

Scale It – Introducing 1 of my 40 rules of change

When creating effective change in any organization, there are 40 rules that, in my experience, are the key between success […]

December 5th, 2022

Assets & Strengths Base – Introducing 1 of my 40 rules of change

For more than 30 years I have been involved in ‘change’ in organizations. Again and again, some fundamental principles, and often […]

November 25th, 2022

Campaign It… is 1 of my 40 rules of change

When you filter out the noise, when you try to extract the core, the fundamentals, those ‘universal rules’ of change […]

October 31st, 2022

Hybrid or not hybrid? That’s not the question…

Culture is the new workplace If you want to have a conversation about the future of work, the nature of […]

October 24th, 2022

‘Powered by Viral Change™’: A Social Transformation Platform for the organization of the 21st Century

When we started to work on Viral Change™, as a way to create large scale behavioural and cultural change, and […]

October 14th, 2022

Corporate tribes, intellectual ghettos and open window policies

We talk a lot about silos in organizations usually in the context of Business Units or divisions. But these are not […]

October 7th, 2022

Peer Networks are the strongest force of action inside the organization

Peer-to-peer works, transversal, spontaneous or not, collaboration, peer-to-peer influence, peer-to-peer activities of Viral Change™ champions or activists, all of this is […]