“The Three Truths of Management and What the Internet Says About It”
Last Wednesday, I delievered a presentation with this title and sub-title on the DOAG 2014 – Konferenz + Ausstellung in Nuremberg. Here are my abstract and manuscript. During my session, I used parts of the manuscript and added current ideas.
🙂 There were quite many people listening to my presentation and it was my delight to receive a lot of nice feedback.
In the second half of the 19th century, the beginning of industrialization changes our world. We now need trained labourers. However, they are not available. Consequently, the caste of engineers feels they have to act and they invent the method “Taylorism”. The new disciplines “management” and “organization” are created. As a consequence of the industrial revolution, they get more and more powerful. Humans are trained to obey. It works.
Today, perfecting the art of organization and having all the competence in management is no longer enough. Entrepreneurial culture and values, terms such as self-organisation and self-determination get more and more important. The basic beliefs and collective constructs, the definition of people’s own lives and the socialization of humans change civilization and culture. They invented the term: “Generation Y”. Even the “purpose” of an enterprise is not beyond questioning.
Managers and entrepreneurial leaders, in particular, often do not find it easy to follow this change. How to measure these “soft factors”? How to evaluate the quality of “leadership”? Why don’t you ask yourself about the three most important leadership qualities? In my presentation, I will introduce a potpourri of answers given by the important management protagonists and tell you about the change in management.
In the second half of the 19th century, the beginning industrialization changes our world at huge speed. All of a sudden, an enormous number of labourers is needed. The available persons all grew up in the country. They are poorly educated, if at all -and not used to working by the clock.
This problem is a challenge to the caste of engineers. They invent the method of “Taylorism”. The disciplines “management” and “organization” are developed and get more and more important as the industrial revolution progresses. It works quite well, because the people are trained for obedience.
Now, the industrial era comes to its end. The art of organization and competence in management are no longer sufficient. A new term develops: “leadership”. According to modern understanding, “good leadership” is essential for the success of an enterprise.
Everybody talks self-organization and self-determination, as well as entrepreneurial culture and entrepreneurial values. One question is the purpose of an enterprise.
The engineers get nervous. After all, how is anybody supposed to measure these “soft factors”? Yet, the development continues. The basic beliefs and the collective constructs, along with everyone’s own definition of life and the socialization of humans in civilization and culture continue to change drastically. All of a sudden, the term “Generation Y” is created.
Many people, not just managers and entrepreneurial leaders, find it hard to keep pace with this change. The consequences are massive and often very detrimental situations in the economy and society. But how do the managers and leaders cope with this change?
None of this is precisely news. As early as the 1980ies, there was a remarkable development at the St. Gallen Hochschule. A new “management model” was created. It makes the HSG famous around the world. The culmination of said model are the eight theses by Hans Ulrich – “Management – Essays Part II from 1981 to 1998 – On Change in Management”:
- Accept uncertainty and the unpredictability of the future as the normal state of affairs: strategy means thinking about the future and you accept that decisions will always have to be made under uncertainty.
- Extend your imagination! Oppose “buts” and leave room for ideas. And share knowledge!
- Always think in the categories “both of them/as well as”, rather than “instead of”: black-and-white is out, colourful is in.
- Think multi-dimensionally: always keep in mind that human beings basically cannot handle more than three ideas simultaneously. And: always base the decision between these dimensions on an ethically responsible judgement of properties.
- Use self-organization and self-determination as a formative model for your enterprise: distribute responsibility, demand subsidiarity.
- Consider management a meaningful and instrumental function! Now isn’t that a new concept of management?
- Concentrate on what is really important: this is basically a law of work economy.
- Utilize group dynamics! Just remember all the cultures with their symbols, rites, rituals and heroes.
I discovered the essay early in 2005. It literally struck me like lightning. You have to remember that it was written more than thirty years ago…
Today, everyting is about gaining knowledge quickly in order to shape our common future. Consequently, we need creativity in order to find the right questions for solving our problems (first creative duty). As soon as we have found these, we have to use knowledge in order to generate solutions.
“Taylorisms” and “mechanisms” will no longer work in the social systems of post-modernism. Of necessity, we have to use new communication formats in enterprises and institutions, as well in order to generate additional knowledge from the wisdom of the masses. The motto must be “diversity instead of single-mindedness”.
Today, this happens through the internet.
Here is an example:
Bernd Geropp (he is an entrepreneurial counsellor whose leadership seminars are highly regarded by many persons) is a famous blogger on the topic: management. By now, his medium is the “podcast”, his blog “more leadership, less management” already received a horrendous amount of clicks. He is also doing interviews and at the end of an interview, he likes to ask the question “What are your three relevant leadership principles?”
Since the replies impressed him, he invited other bloggers to participate in a blog parade. In other words, he asked them to write an article on “my three most important leadership principles and/or values” and link those articles to his blog. The result was an exciting series of articles on “the concept of leadership and leadership principles”. Let me present some of the answers in a “potpourri”.
I will start with the principles of the blog parade initiator, Bernd Geropp. He says:
Clear goals, the right values, serenity!
Let me continue with a few ladies who also participated in the blog parade:
Create meaning, handle complexity, provide learning space!
Franziska Köppe (Madiko)
Think systemic, identify, act together!
Excellent bosses will lead excellent teams, others are permitted to be different, potential will make you successful.
Values, create shared interests, flat hierarchies
Leadership = motivating people? Leadership ≠ orders and control, leadership = knowledge
And now a few men are permitted to have their say…
Dr. Andreas Zeuch
Self-organization and participation, space for potential, tolerance with mistakes.
Dr. Eberhard Huber
Serenity as the basic concept, the willingness to make decisions, accepting
Wisdom, sober-mindedness, courage or brains, gut feeling, heart (after Plato).
Gebhard Borck (Affenmärchen)
Leadership is a temporary state of affairs! Only lead persons who actually wish to be led! Make nomadic leadership possible!
Dr. Heinz Peter Wallner, CMC
Polarity, resonance, structural patterns.
Unfolding, trust, friendliness
Create clarity, generate optimal surroundings, do not reward busybodies
Dr. Marcus Raitner
Attitude, trust, serenity
Decide what is undecidable, counter uncertainty with serenity, practical prudence.
Dr. Stefan Hagen
Leadership with heart, brains and hand – a sense of belonging, consideration and structure.
I want to leave it at that, although there are many more very nice articles. These fifteen authors have been selected by me from a total of very recommendable 44 relatively randomly. It strikes me that the ladies actually replied a little differently from the men. I find that exciting. But:
Are those all not nice principles?
And you get them for free on the internet – in fact you can even have them as a free e-book. This exchange of ideas happens on a very high level – and I liked it very much, indeed. St. Gallen happened more than thirty years ago. This is where the “scientific” groundwork was laid. However, today, the exchange of experience and the addition of quick knowledge no longer happen primarily at universities. Instead, they happen in practical life and on the internet.
There are hybrid (virtual and physical) activities in and around the “network” – for many, they are often still unknown. For instance, I would recommend openPM as an open and independent platform for project managers, leaders and entrepreneurs.
openPM is linked with PM-Camp (pm-camp.org), the “face2face” movement in project management. PM-Camp is a “grass-root-movement” which developed as a self-organized cooperation with open PM and organizes wonderful barcamps for project managers, leaders and entrepreneurs. It is a meeting point for experienced and young people, women and men, young and old persons who share their experience and knowledge. The movement grows rapidly and already has yearly events held in many towns of Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
I took a stroll through our enterprise and asked our leaders about their leadership principles. And some of the answers were, again, truly innovative! For instance, an answer I liked was:
Promote individuality, connect people to a network, isolate the important issues in team-work.
I was surprised to see how few replies actually said the same. And how well almost all of them supplemented each other, regardless of the differences. However, the diversity of ideas also shows that such a thing as exactly three truths on “leadership” does not exist!
Incidentally, I also found some references in literature. In his book “Nicht mit uns” – Das Leben von Leonie und Walter Frankenstein (Not with Us – The Lives of Leonie and Walter Frankenstein), Walter Frankenstein gives three reasons for himself and his wife and two small children surviving the Holocaust during the last war days:
Fearless, boldness and good friends
Indeed, this might definitely also qualify as a leader principle for a successful manager.
I was also invited to attend Bernd Beropps blog parade. That is when I asked myself what my own three “leadership principles” are.
🙂 After only a short time for consideration, it was quite clear to me – I am an ALO man – my principles are:
Agile, lean, open!
In a nutshell: Managers, too, are only human!
Successful managers are a little better when it comes to judging what is good or bad for the enterprise. Consequently, their decisions are more often the right decisions for the enterprise than not.
I believe that basically all persons who work more constructively than others and whose destructive element is rather an undefined quantity are good managers – both in business and in private areas.
This is especially true when we are also talking persons who not just strive towards (often seemingly) some advantage, but who instead trust that a good decision can also create a significant “collateral benefit”. And if these persons also have a good measure of humanity mixed with an abhorrence of enmity, then everything is just fine.
It might also be a good idea for change in management if enmity could be transformed into humanity!
About my presentation:
There is a free e-book with the aforementioned blog parade “Sustainable Leadership” by von Bernd Geropp. It was edited by Gudrun Happich. She created the e-book by collecting the blog parade and other sources, separating it following “best practice principle” values and then commenting on it. (www.mehr-fuehren.de/nachhaltige-fuehrung-e-book/)