Leadership

After the Election

After the Election

Looking for lessons.

I write this from my office in London, where I sit following a largely sleepless night. Before the first polls closed on America’s historic election night, I hosted a lovely dinner with a handful of friends and colleagues where, mercifully, very little conversation was devoted to the campaign or the potential results that were only a few hours away.

More Evolved Thinking About Organizations

More Evolved Thinking About Organizations

These are exciting and encouraging times, if we can find the courage to allow them to be.

 

Almost since the time I entered the field of organization development I have been driven by the desire to help people bring more of who they are to the work they do. Nothing irks me more than hearing people talk about being one way at work and another way altogether when at home or with friends. Invariably, these people report that they leave some, often significant, part of themselves at the door when they enter the workplace.

How much are we missing out on and how much is lost because we don’t feel like we can be who we really are at work?

Back to the Future

It’s all about the learning.

 

For some time now, I’ve been noticing a change in the way teams operate. When I was first learning my craft, the typical metaphor for a high performing team was often a sports team, or a symphony orchestra, if I was in a place where drawing parallels to sports was unwelcome or misunderstood. These metaphors are less and less applicable in many of today’s dynamic organizational environments.

Finding Balance

Balance is learning to live without guilt.

 

Maybe it is the hopeless optimist in me, but I find the following idea incredibly compelling: “...it’s time to stop limiting our thinking and start believing that equality is possible if we ‘lean out’ and create the companies we want to work for, instead of waiting for the companies we work for to become what we want.”

Simple Rules to Live By

What a flock of starlings can teach us.

 

Separation. Alignment. Cohesion. These are the names of the three simple rules that scientists and computer modelers have deduced to describe what enables birds to flock.  It’s amazing that a set of guideposts, at once so clear and so broad, could drive the behavior of tens of thousands of autonomous individuals so that they act as a coherent whole.

This is what complex adaptive systems are all about.

We are just beginning to understand that our organizations are also complex adaptive systems. Unfortunately, this means a great deal of change as most organizations have been operating under a much older, and now less effective, set of assumptions deriving from early 20th century innovations.

Think Ford’s assembly line and Taylor’s scientific management. Stupendous ideas in their time. Much less relevant in today’s knowledge economy.

Eric McNulty’s blog in strategy+business makes an argument for the using three different simple rules in our organizations today: Purpose. Values. Performance. I like his thinking. These guideposts are broad enough to apply to a multitude of situations, and can be made clear enough to be uniquely useful in each one.

If you find the usual command and control techniques are not moving your people in the needed direction, try defining a purpose for your organization, clarifying a short list of values, and tracking a few essential success indicators.

Let me know how you get on.