The Good Mechanics of Continuous Improvement have given us a culture of feedback. Feedback is worshipped. There is a whole sub industry on ‘how to give feedback’. It appeals to honesty, transparency, learning, accountability, leadership, openness, performance management, and the entire Father Christmas List of Good Management. Who can argue against it?
Not me. Well, a bit. Because it also leads to a rather mechanistic view of the organization that focuses on errors and fixes, on continuous improvement and natural feedback, loop learning. It’s Cybernetics as its best. And as a (very) old president of a Society of Medical Cybernetics, I can’t really dismiss that. But very often feedback loops lead to trivial incrementalism.
My problem is the hijacking of most of management airtime in some places. I feedback to you, you feedback to me, and we declare this space honest and good. Above all, we feel good. We’ve done it. I am not sure what we have learnt, or will do differently.
I am often missing a culture of feed forward, where we look at how we are moving towards a building of a shared future. OK, OK, OK, we also need to feedback about the present, which is always about yesterday. OK. But I want to know how we are building, constructing, creating and messing around with possibilities.
That’s me. Not a Universal Law.
I think we have too many thermostats that take care of the predictable and the achievable ( nothing wrong with this).
I really think we could do with switching off the thermostat from time to time. Maybe we need to experience a bit of the overheating or the hibernation.
PS: Here is another silly metaphor for the corporate collection: managers manage the thermostat; leaders have to secretly and furtively sabotage it, switch it off, under the cover of darkness.
Continue the conversation, by joining my live webinar on 30th July, as I debunk The Myths of Management.
Old traditional management thinking will be unsuitable to win in the post Covid19 scenario. Maybe it’s time to run the organization ‘under new management’. Join me and my team on 30th July, 18:00 BST/19:00 CET – for my free, live webinar with Q&A.
We have been running enterprises with very tired concepts of empowerment, ownership, accountability and other little challenged pillars. The truth is that there is mythology embedded in all those concepts. Old traditional management thinking will be unsuitable to win in the post Covid-19 scenario. So, what will the ‘new management’ look like? Which elephants do we need to see in the management room?