While this year has brought some incredibly hard lessons
- both emotionally
, and socially
- it has also brought with it a broader opening to question what is - and what could be - and the role that real leadership plays in applying these lessons.
The lessons from L. David Marquet
, Jocko Willink
, and Leif Babin
, out of the military towards a “leader-leader
"mentality instead of a "leader-follower” gained a larger fellowship outside of the podcast
groupies. Adding meat to the lessons taught to us by Le Petit Prince“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the people to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea”(
Antoine De Saint‐Exupery) to foster ownership, controlling one’s ego to be able to truly learn, and collaborate.
Much of the fluff, pomp, and circumstance
in business is seeming to fall more and more to the wayside as more and more, as the lessons taught by Bob Dylan
“the times they are a-changin” are sinking into the broader awareness around how our context
of the work we do and why
In fact, more and more companies are embracing simple, “we hire adults” types of principles
to better approach complexity to be more adaptive
organizations. An excellent example of this is, of course, Netflix who ascribe to two main principles: Freedom & Responsibility
- As We Grow, Minimize Rules.
- Inhibit Chaos with Ever More High Performance People.
- Flexibility is More Important than Efficiency in the Long Term
“The best managers figure out how to get great outcomes by setting the appropriate context, rather than by trying to control their people”.
Pretty simple to say - bold to execute.
“Managers: When one of your talented people does something dumb, don’t blame them. Instead, ask yourself what context you failed to set.”
In this day and age, you do not
as a leader or team member
want to hear “because you told me to
” or “that is the process
In short, because those are the antithesis statements to enabled ownership, taking the space to rethink, and flexible collaboration.
Companies are understanding that if processes are no longer fit-for-purpose, they need to be put into question or thrown out the window, so that the focus is on truly value-added work.
In fact, according to BCG
, “the the challenges posed by the pandemic have revealed considerable untapped potential that can be captured by any organization to achieve major improvements in productivity and performance”. In the according research summary to bolster that statement, Yves Morieux
and Peter Tollman
“…over the past-half century, business complexity—the proliferation of multiple (and sometimes conflicting) performance requirements—has multiplied roughly sixfold.
To manage complexity, companies typically create new organizational structures, roles, processes, and systems; ever more elaborate matrix organizations; and new metrics, KPIs, and scorecards to track progress against these multiple objectives.
The paradoxical result is an explosion in organizational complicatedness.
During the same period that complexity was increasing by a factor of 6, organizational complicatedness in response to complexity was increasing by a factor of 35 times—or roughly the square of complexity.
Metastasizing complicatedness has taken a significant toll on organizations. It is a serious obstacle to real (genuinely value-adding) work, and as such is a major cause of stagnant productivity in many developed economies….
In this process of adjusting to a radically new situation, much of the complicatedness of the traditional work environment melted away, creating space for people to reset and refocus on the nuts and bolts of value-adding work.
The lockdown unlocked real work.”
At the end of 2020 and transitioning into 2021, we can take some keen advice from Bob
as we look to how we are dealing with complexity, giving our people freedom and responsibly as adults, and focusing on what really makes a difference in value-added work:
Don’t stand in the doorway, don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled
The battle outside ragin’
Will soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times, they are a-changin’
Come mothers and fathers throughout the land
And don’t criticize what you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly aging
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times, they are a-changin’
No matter what form work will continue as be it hybrid, flex, with a commute, with or without homeschooling - how are we unlocking real work and moving away from the complicatedness that grew over time. By allowing ourselves the bravery to strike through what is no longer fit for purpose and reassess our value-streams, what our customer’s users actually need, and what makes for a great workplace, we can look to thrive and adapt in complex times, rather than stall-out under the burdens of organizational complicatedness.
For the times, they are a-changin´.