Thursday, October 23, 2014

Does holacracy need leadership?

Though it's been around for a decade, the holacracy doesn't have much of a track record... it is pushed by tech companies like Tony Hsieh Zappos as ‘the hot management trend for 2014’.

holacracyA noun ‘-ocracy’ or ‘-cracy’ means a government / governance by a particular sort of people or according to a particular principle: democracy (by the people); meritocracy (by people with the most ability) and a ‘holo-’ is a prefix added to the start of a word meaning ‘whole’, ‘entire’. In the book The Ghost in the Machine Arthur Koestler argued that literally everything in our world, from chemistry to biology (atoms to molecules to cells to organisms), life forms, or even our cells that form an organ and organs form our body and society are nested hierarchies of entities, which, for lack of any existing word, he called ‘holons’.

atoms to moleculesIn organization holacracy is the concept of self-directed work teams. In business environment it is a rather new management practice that is floating around like ‘lean (manufacturing) organization’, ‘distributed authority’, ‘agile organization’, ‘Six Sigma excellence’ in times organizations need different structures and governance to get top competitive advantages. It differentiates from other practices by being perceived as (new) ‘open allocation’ management structures that (mostly) eliminate bosses.

Unfortunately, the notion that holacracy is non-hierarchical proved as a nonsense. Brian Robertson (Ternary Software) introduced holacracy to the world through a 2007 article as the idea how to put a lot of emphasis on consensual, democratic decision-making and getting everyone’s opinion. He defined it as a set of inward-looking hierarchical mechanisms that connect the teams or work circles. Then, a vertical hierarchy between those circles is still required within the organization. Instructions, information, decisions and guidance on how something has to be done should correspond to the purpose of doing business and is passed from above circle to the below one. Hence a hierarchy stands.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Leadership and Martial Arts – Anything in Common?

The globalization process has an impact on all of us and almost everything we do. It impacts the environment and consequently the way how organizations are structured, teams lead and managed. People work together and embody a variety of personalities, as well as a range of ways of doing things. A modern leader is supposed to grasp all of it to lead forward and to predict behaviors, but never to give or take offence due to misunderstanding the cultural issues.

Can such an old wisdom that is hidden in martial arts philosophy point to the culturally independent way in the leadership? Why, precisely, martial arts? Because martial arts do not differentiate! Being thought all over the globe philosophy remains the same regardless of personal believes, skin color, gender, ability …

Effortless leadership

In the Nature everything seems to be done effortlessly, or with the smallest effort, the same that is genuinely used in martial arts. Nature, in spite of dealing with extremely huge things and events, conserves ‘energy’ e.g. big tree growth with little ‘effort’, the seas do not get tired of waving, birds fly with ease, an ant can hold 100 times its weight and appears to carry it effortlessly. The same principle is used in martial arts: in a fight there is simply not enough time to recuperate unwisely spent energy. You tire, you lose.

Overexertion is damaging also in the leadership process: to spend more energy that is needed is often harmful not only because it represents a physical and intellectual hindrance. When things are done effortlessly the impression is that everything runs smoothly and harmoniously, there is no stopping, no fuss, no dissatisfaction. Most importantly, all and everything is achieved without resorting to give orders or spend time on extensive persuasion. A well led team should not be a battlefield of egos. In teamwork there is no place for individual ‘victories’ or ‘defeats’.

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Leadership: More Intelligence or Emotions

Should a leader use mostly intelligence or should the emotions be primary in dealing with people, decision making…?

Some of the definitions of intelligence say:

  • Merriam-Webster: the ability to learn or understand things or to deal with new or difficult situations; the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations.
  • capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity; aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meanings, etc.
  • The free dictionary: The capacity to acquire and apply knowledge; capacity for learning, reasoning, and understanding; aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meanings, etc.

And emotions are defined as:

  • Merriam-Webster: a conscious mental reaction (as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body.
  • any strong agitation of the feelings actuated by experiencing love, hate, fear, etc., and usually accompanied by certain physiological changes, as increased heartbeat or respiration, and often overt manifestation, as crying or shaking.
  • The free dictionary: A mental state that arises spontaneously rather than through conscious effort and is often accompanied by physiological changes; a feeling: the emotions of joy, sorrow, reverence, hate, and love.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Atypical views on Leadership - 2

An outstanding Leadership for cross cultural team(s)

(Continues from Atypical views on Leadership – 1)

corporate cultureAs the organization grows larger and more complex, management at the top begin to lead and decide less by firsthand experience, but more and more on heavily processed data. From their position they rarely see the business flowing in the same way as do the people down in production or on the sales floor. Four decades ago, IBM tried to unify corporate culture in its subsidiaries all over the world. Geert Hofstede carried out a world-wide survey on employee values. The result was very informative and demonstrative. There were other researchers of the same topic too. A common conclusion of all those studies is that “we are definitely different”.

Back to Adam Smith. He characterized economy as three orders in society: those who live by the rent, by their labor, and by the profits. Joseph Schumpeter described economy also as three-folded: monetary, interests, and value theory within a natural-law perspective. And they were not alone in dividing economy in three parts. One does not need to be an outstanding expert to deduct: a (free) market, which by definition is something imaginary, can be perceived as a Holy Ghost; a (private) property, which equals to omnipotence – the God; and a labor, which can be linked to a sacrifice for higher capital gains – Jesus Christ. Is then the economy just a new “global religion” with all needed attributes? If you remove fundamental attribute of any religion -“trust”- from all economics factors, what do you get? A meltdown of today currencies, companies values, stock markets … Or choose a next attribute – “permanent growth” of profits which is in collision with all natural laws (even Universe is limited). The focal point of economy driven capitalism paradigm is the accumulation of capital or wealth. It propels uncontrollably, destroying the natural environment and exploitation of resources beyond recovery. There is also no room for other ‘opinions’ than economic measures that drive our lives today. Is this a kind of a “medieval” way of thinking?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Atypical views on Leadership - 1

An outstanding Leadership for cross cultural team(s)

Have you met a person that was thinking in a completely different way to yours? What kind of impression does it leave on you? Do you dismiss it immediately, or you find it worthy, erroneous  …? 
the cultural background noise
For me it is exciting, definitely because my life path is somehow atypical, too. In our core we people are similar no matter where we come from. Not long ago I had a TEDx talk about the human behavior that surpasses “the cultural background noise” – “the noise” that accompanies us throughout our life and normally influences our values, ethics and morals, mentally and subconsciously. Unfortunately, this kind of reasoning I find that is still missing in common stances and leadership practices. Let me try to show some examples which are going to be based on atypical views.

From the management’s perspective, managers perform tasks, manage people and do business. Accordingly, there are numerous methodologies and tools helping to manage business and people: Just In Time Production, Kobayashi’s 20 keys, Six Sigma, Business Process Reengineering … to name some. In business environment, do all these methodologies and tools really come out the way we need them to? Current economic and financial situation makes us doubt it. If these tools were as efficient and as great as claimed, then we should not see companies struggling and vanishing. Why it is then so?