The way that people perceive and relate to the world has historically passed through several major changes. Changes that affect everything from society at large to the leadership within companies and organisations.
We are now standing in the middle of one of those paradigm shifts. Today’s dominant management model has passed its best-by-date. That model is out of sync with the society and science of today, as well as with the needs of today’s people. This is not to say that the present way of leading is all bad. We must safeguard the best parts of what we are doing today by integrating it with a new model that is capable of handling a world with high complexity and an ever-accelerating speed of change. A model for the future that shifts our focus…
From specialising to integrating
In the past it was enough to be a specialist. Now we need to integrate. A specialist must be the best in a limited sector. An integrator understands how all the pieces fit together. A specialist develops a specialist language. An integrator communicates and makes sense. A specialist focuses on his part of the operations. An integrator makes sure everything works as a whole.
Up until the present day, specialisation has been the path to success. Consultants have also for the most part been specialists, rather than integrators.Tomorrow’s management model must pull down walls and build bridges of trust that can help all the specialists collaborate to meet business goals.
From predictability to preparedness
In our increasingly unpredictable and fast moving world, the demand for strategic control and steering has never been greater. Many management teams aim for control via a heavily centralised command structure. But micro-management unfortunately creates an illusion of control. A world with high complexity and an ever-accelerating speed of change renders it impossible for modern management to make sufficiently wise and fast decisions from a centralised framework.
Successful management teams understand that managing details must be replaced by an infrastructure for strategic dialogue and collaboration.
They tell a story about the future that everyone can make their own. In this way they make sure that everyone in the company is ready to take necessary actions and initiatives when something unexpected happens.
From top down to dynamic leadership
If a company were a machine, it would be very easy to manage. All we’d need to do is pull the right levers and push the right buttons to attain a solid and predictable level of efficiency. But companies are not technical inventions, rather they are complex adaptive systems where the efforts of individuals and teams fluctuate immensely. Traditional management has a tendency to hamper initiatives, participation and involvement from the employees, and the collective intelligence of the whole company is never mobilised.
Future management models will be characterised by a dynamic and informal leadership. Everyone in the company, be it a manager or a co-worker, is expected to act as soon as something needs to happen. Everyone knows they have the mandate to take necessary decisions. When necessary, they will collaborate with others in the company to make sure what needs to be done, gets done.
An integrated organisation is built around these three foundations, where everyone understands and assumes responsibility, not only for their own work, but also for shared work. An organisation better equipped for producing good results in a world of high complexity and accelerating speed of change.