by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc.®

“Why is it we’re not so interested in what’s going on outside of our organization, company, team or institution?”

 

 Most organizations or teams take an Inside-out View. They’re more preoccupied with what’s going on inside their organizations than what’s happening outside it. Perhaps that’s because they find its inner machinations more interesting, concrete and understandable than what’s occurring in their wider world. Is this because executives and others feel they have more influence over events that take place nearer to their finger tips than those farther afield?

 

And yet, if they could really understand what’s happening outside their organization, they would be well positioned to take advantage of so many more opportunities. Within the natural biological world birds, plants, marine life, and fauna constantly mutate and adapt to the changing environment around them. Without that they would quickly become extinct.

 

Is that why so many once successful organizations disappear, too? They become so wrapped up in themselves that they forget to adjust to the world around them. Like the biological world, man-made domains have to follow the market rather than expecting the market to follow them. Executives should appreciate that by being more outside-in focused, they can expect greater:

» Customer/Client Responsiveness – When customers/clients sense their suppliers and advisors are truly bent on meeting their needs and sensitivities, they will reward those enterprises with greater loyalty, business and good intentions. One primary reason for this is clearly because outside-in organizations will accurately predict and respond to their customer/client needs. Hence the customer/client is more inclined to award business or contracts in the outside-in entity’s direction. Most customers/clients instinctively know when they are being well taken care of.

 

» Market Intelligence – By being firmly preoccupied with what’s happening within your marketplace, it’s far more  likely that your enterprise will be sensitized to market events, trends, and inconsistencies that emerge and therefore bring super- market awareness. Through being overly focused on internal events, many market changes and signals could well be missed. Some of those missed factors could prove devastating or lead to opportunity-shortsightedness.

 

» People Performance – A natural preoccupation of most effective leaders is maximizing their entity’s level of people engagement. So many overlook the reality that: if they fully focus their people on highly relevant external targets, issues or opportunities, it minimizes infighting, bureaucratic tendencies and inefficiency. Done right, their people will step-up to external challenges and opportunities, instead of resorting to typical back-biting, coasting and politicking synonymous with inside-out entities.

 

» Board/Owner Effectiveness – Similarly when board members and/or owners are fully focused on external opportunities and challenges; they are likely to be more motivated and helpful. Boards or owners much prefer to discuss market advances and possibilities than advising on internal organization matters. They are usually not close enough to internal matters or personalities anyway to offer the best advice.

 

» Suppliers – As external entities, suppliers – rather than vendors, where it’s high time we ditched such an unflattering designation – will appreciate any extra attention they receive also. In return, most of them will reciprocate with greater attentiveness and make greater efforts to watch out for your best interests, as well.

 

By now you will be fully briefed on the significant value of being viewed as an outside-in organization. But your view of your outside world could also be rather like being in your office and looking out the window at a sunny, foggy or rain-beating-against- the-glass day? What do you do in the latter two instances? If it’s sunny, where you can clearly see your customers and marketplace, that is obviously your preferred scenario. But what do you do on the foggy or rainy days?

 

If it’s a brief occurrence, then it’s likely not a major deal. But the stormy, foggy or rainy market days could remain for weeks on end. Then what? One clear option would be to pull together a really astute group of people within your organization – many good heads are better than one.  Six or seven – including you – is an optimum number. Because they are astute, they are more likely to be outside-in focused, and therefore have a greater feel for your marketplace. Once this team is in place and appropriately challenged to your scenario, you can move through the following vistas with it:

» Vista 1 – Agree on where your organization or team intends to keep going; apart from new relevant information which could cause you all to change course.

» Vista 2 – Allow the group to offer any number of issues or opportunities it feels could aid or prevent your organization or team in accomplishing its intended destination. (NOTE: Their collective wisdom will go a long way to peer through the fog or stormy, market weather.)

»Vista 3 – Allow them to prioritize their top three opportunities or issues.

»Vista 4 – Now split the six up into three “pairs,” since work-pairing is an optimum way of making things happen.

»Vista 5 – Encourage each pair – where two heads are often better than one – to put together an optimum action initiative based upon WHAT, HOW, WHO, WHEN and WHERE (to go for well-informed allies for input).

» Vista 6 – Allow them to share their initiative with the other pairs and then set-out to make them come to fruition over a period of 3-6 months. Then encourage them to share these initiatives with as many other appropriate members within the organization as is practicable to gather their thoughts and buy-in, too.  A clear beginning and end should now become apparent.

» Vista 7 – Regular follow-through with each pair is vital to show organization interest in their activities and make adjustments where necessary. This is particularly true at the mid-point, where some pairs may lose focus.

» Vista 8 – Celebrate their successes. This is so important for obvious reasons, but also to encourage pairs to be ready to do it all over again the next time around.

 

And so each pair presses forward; despite the storm. Hopefully that market storm will eventually clear, where each pair can always recalibrate their efforts in light of any fresh deviations that may have occurred despite their best predictions. The key point being, you don’t overly slow down owing to a murky or stormy market situation. If you are a genuine “outside-in” organization, there will be sufficient residual market insights available among an astute group of key people to make reasonable guesstimates while the storm or fog persists.

 

If you are currently an “inside-out” organization, where everyone is preoccupied with politics, second-guessing and people shuffling, then you will probably just sit on your hands during market-stormy times. That could prove fatal.

 

To find out more about building an outside-in organization, talk with:



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
© 1994-2017 Leadership Solutions, Inc (MALRC) All rights reserved

by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc.®

“Talent and hard work are important, but most top performers in Business have one thing in common. They accept fewer tasks and then obsess over them.” Morten T. Hansen, WSJ Review article –January 13-14, 2018

 

 

We’re so bound-up in our puritanical culture and the ingrained habits of the industrial age: work harder, work harder…We’re also so caught-up in the need for our off-spring to be occupied every moment of their time; just in case they should go astray. Moreover, we’re so trapped by a treadmill that “time means money,” such that we don’t know the difference between money and smart money.

 

But, stop, think for a moment. Think about all the times we’ve wasted chasing a few dimes or pennies. Think about the many tasks we’ve pursued, where we we’ve just been spinning our wheels. Think also about the many issues we’ve tried to resolve, but just ended up going around and around in circles. And, not least, just think about all the many pointless hours we’ve worked to no useful end, just to make ourselves feel or look busy.

 

Hansen, a professor at University of California, Berkley, shared the following: “The common practice we found among the highest ranked performers in our study wasn’t at all what we expected. It wasn’t a better ability to organize or delegate. Instead, top performers mastered selectivity.” Your writer has also noted this characteristic among top leaders. They spend more time thinking than doing. That way they get thousands of others to all the doing. No wonder Einstein pointed out: “There’s no expedient that man will not go to avoid the labor of thinking.” The majority love to “do” rather than “think.”

 

So those who enjoy the art of thinking and channel it in the right direction through selectivity are the ones who come out on top. This writer can think of more than one example of leaders, who appeared to have all the time in the world, and yet were enormously successful. They knew what was the most important thing for them to spend time on at any given moment. And these were people who weren’t handed that much at the outset of their careers.

 

For their regular observers, however, there were times when those special leaders really obsessed about certain things: until either they fully understood them or could make a selective decision about them. Once they had decision clarity, they then found someone to take care of the issue for them – one of their trusted friends or executives. They were rather careful about choosing the people around them. Assuming that friend or executive met their standards, (s)he would be questioned until they came to the same conclusion as our selectivity-masters and then they were empowered to proceed. Such focused behavior is what true leaders are made of. They are not so much the doers, but the thinkers, questioners and empowerers.

 

One other maxim they would also apply is Occam’s razor, which stipulates that the best explanation for everything is usually the simplest one. Why is that? Because people generally act upon the simplest ideas, probably for reasons related to Einstein’s quote used earlier. Even so, there’s one caveat. The simplest solution is often the one that needs the most thought to divine. Most people, including this writer, are prone to act upon the first idea that pops into their head…How many times do we get caught out in such a fever? It saves us the headache of thinking.

 

Moreover, your writer recently encouraged a fast moving and talented executive to take a long weekend out every six to eight weeks. It would consist of Friday to decompress, Saturday to start recovery, Sunday to chill out with family or friends, and Monday – with clear-headed thinking – to use her sharp mind to give thought to crucial, strategic issues. That would put her in a powerful position to brief and steer senior colleagues and her own team members on Tuesday. She clearly understood the point, but felt her nature would never allow her to take it up. Pity for her and her company.

 

So here you are as a promising leader, be that as a team-leader, strategic leader, or a visionary leader, wishing to be a major contributor within your organization. Do you pile on the work hours, knowing that would be the politically correct thing to do, or do you dramatically increase your thinking time? One thing you have to be prepared for is that your brain is rather like the rest of your body, it can tend to ache somewhat at the outset when you start to utilize it more often. Perhaps that’s why the faint of heart don’t pursue deeper thinking any more after a short attempt? They get a headache.

 

But for those of us who really want to become enlightened leaders, we have to consider the following pointers:

» Set aside regular strategic time. Working through strategies takes serious time. It’s not something you can do on the fly. The day-to-day hustle and bustle doesn’t allow for this. You need to set aside quality time in your calendar every month, 6 weeks or two months toward developing a more macro-view. Such clarity will reward you and your organization in spades.

» Be selective about what you focus on. Take a leaf out of highly successful people’s books and be much more selective about what you focus on. Three items at once, is probably a maximum…preferably only one. It easily becomes unwieldy to do more.

» Don’t mix operational and strategic decisions together. Too many organizations do this: they jumble them together. Not only does it take a different mindset to make decisions for one or the other; strategic issues usually take longer and deeper thought. Operations are about today: strategy is about tomorrow.

» Leadership is about empowering others: whereas management is about controlling others. If you have too many others around you who need to be controlled, then you have the wrong team.

» In the same way that you learnt to drive a car: where you were very conscious about every step, and then those steps became fluent and intuitive. You have to take the same approach in adjusting your decision-making behaviors as a leader. Those steps are listed above.

 

Closing with another line from Hansen’s article: “So much in our workplaces is premised on the conventional wisdom that hard work is the road to success, and that working hardest makes you a star. Our analysis suggests the opposite.” It’s about selectivity, not working harder.

      

To learn more about decision-clarity, talk with:



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
© 1994-2017 Leadership Solutions, Inc (MALRC) All rights reserved

by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc.®

Today is our present and tomorrow is our future: but they also enable us to get our priorities into perspective.”

 

  Who would question that today means that 24 hour period in which we eat, sleep, play, study, work or pursue our hobbies? And who would question that tomorrow projects time to infinity, starting at midnight, every day? It’s rather like hurdling: if you’re successful at it, you’re not so much concentrating on the hurdle you are clearing but focusing on the next one ahead. That way, you build maximum momentum.

 

Even so, if we are eager to build organizational momentum, they are the two most under-utilized concepts that exist within our educational, government or work environment. Almost everyone seems to struggle with their priorities, including this writer, until they take full advantage of these today-tomorrow concepts. If we are serious about building momentum, we can utilize today and tomorrow at much greater advantage. Just take a look at Jeff Bezos who leads Amazon.

 

He’s building extraordinary momentum through: Today – running his various business e-enterprises: book distribution, food shopping, newspaper publishing, and music-video distribution. At the same time, he is preparing for Tomorrow with his warehouse distribution network and delivery channels; as well as thinking-about where his duplicate HQ and home might be – in another US time zone – and what form Amazon’s future air, sea or land delivery might take: from drones, to self-driving vehicles, to space delivery. We can all take a lesson from his example; especially business and organization leaders, as well as their other levels of organizational leadership…more about these latter levels later.

 

If you wish to build extraordinary momentum, take a leaf from Bezos’s “e-book” and work with today and tomorrow time concepts in a different way. Of course, it depends on the work role you play. When Bezos was running a small entrepreneurial, e-book-supply operation, his today was delivering books over his current quarter; and his tomorrow was looking out over the next 1-2 years as to what else he could deliver through email media. Now that he’s orchestrating a major enterprise, his today is delivery horizon is over the current 12 months, and his tomorrow is mapping-out the next 3-5 years: where tomorrow combines both his preparing component for the subsequent 12 months, and his thinking-about over the subsequent 2-3 years after that.

 

His preparing includes all the building-out of distribution points Amazon needs, both in the US and overseas, as well as the road, sea and air systems he needs for delivering to his millions of e-customers. His preparing also includes his negotiations with architects and contractors who will build or refurbish his additional duplicate HQ and home. Add to this his thinking-about activity: What form of future delivery channels does he need, by air, sea and land, to provide prompt, on-time delivery to retain his worldwide customer base? No doubt you will have figured out that he needs to do the executing, preparing and thinking-about simultaneously. How is that possible?

 

But not so fast. He doesn’t strictly entertain all three simultaneously, as our crest-fallen, multi-taskers have abruptly found out. It’s more likely that he apportions his time on a weekly-monthly 20-80 basis. Where 20% of his time is spent on todayexecuting delivery over the next 12 months – and the remaining 80% of his time is devoted to tomorrow; with 50% of that time focused on preparing the way for upgraded services and the other 30% spent thinking-about future services. Those percentages convert to 8/32hrs of his week/month (20%) focused on today’s execution factors; and 32/128hrs devoted to tomorrow’s preparing and thinking-about activities. That still leaves remaining hours for sleeping, enjoying his family, and pursuing his hobbies; where his work week is 40hrs (hmm?) out of 168 weeklong hours.

 

By way of contrast, assuming you have at least two levels of leadership (strategists and team leaders – executives or supervisors in traditional speak) between you and your frontline people: then, by the time we arrive to chat with those frontline people, you will find them 80% focused on today’s – literally today and this week – activities and 20% of their time devoted to tomorrow –or next week, this month’s – challenges and likely activities.

 

    Hence, 32hrs of their week would concentrate on immediate execution requirements and activities, and 8hrs would be devoted to preparing-for next week and thinking-about the remainder of their month. Note: That 8 hours doesn’t need to be spent in one single block, even though that would be the ultimate. It can be interspersed among the other 32hrs of execution time, assuming the conventional 40hr week. Such a 32-8hr formulation would constantly be rolled forward.

 

Below you will note a table laying out the different leader-staff levels, with their % today-tomorrow ratios, hour splits, time horizons and roles. Now that you’re beginning to understand the concept, you can see how things change with each level. This way the roles become complementary to each other without unnecessarily treading on each other’s toes.

 

In a traditional organization it is all too likely you will find all levels focusing on the front-line staff, because all levels feel more comfortable discussing day-to-day tactics and weeds rather than reviewing tomorrow’s strategy. They also cannot resist second-guessing their staff. No wonder frontline staff can become paralyzed, depressed or reluctant to take responsibility.

 

While each level’s today role is pretty self-evident, linking that to tomorrow’s role of preparing and thinking-about – or putting the right things-in-place and laying out the pathway beyond – is a much more challenging role for executives and first-line leaders to pull off. Again, they are not expected to be multi-taskers, but to be more cognizant of their three roles and coordinating their time accordingly. As long as they can reasonably ascertain that they can appropriately apportion their time, whether that be ad-hoc slithers or more dedicated time, they will find their domain accelerate in momentum: rather than plodding along in a logical, step-by-step or stop-start manner.

 

This cycle of events – executing, preparing and thinking-about – is called Priority or Strategic Streaming; where the frontline people and team leaders work with priority streaming, and the strategists and visionists work with strategic streaming. By working with streaming in a disciplined way, like Jeff Bezos, you will build incredible momentum over time and your people will enjoy every moment of it. There are three things to bear in mind to pull it off:

  • Avoid becoming a multi-tasker: treat each component of today and tomorrow with its discrete amount of time.
  • Weave the time into your week, month, quarter or year to the appropriate portions of time suggested.
  • Like when you learnt to drive: You focused on each component in a deliberate manner initially. Once you got into the sequence of events, it increasingly became more and more natural and intuitive.

 

Good luck with your efforts. Then you will really see the benefits of treating today and tomorrow as different tools to make a lot of unstoppable things happen. You never know: you could become the next Amazon.

 

To learn more about “building momentum,” talk with:



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
© 1994-2017 Leadership Solutions, Inc (MALRC) All rights reserved

by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc.®

“How many times are two heads better than one?”

 

 Some while back this writer was involved with an executive team of seven, as they set about envisioning their way forward. After around 2-3 hours of highly engaged discussion, they had clarified their way forward along with its associated key issues. They prioritized those issues from their final listing to produce a top three.

 

Shortly after, their leader encouraged them to pair-up in a complementary manner, based upon prior-objective-personal-survey insights, and then each pair volunteered to focus on one of those top three priorities. Such priority-action reinforced the art of trying not to focus on too many things at once. An hour or so later, each pair had developed an on-going action initiative; covering the headings – What? How? Who? When? Where? – the last being where they go for allies outside of their domain. Their initiatives were formulated to

optimally resolve and implement items associated with their key chosen priority.  It was then vital for their group leader to encourage progress by showing ongoing interest until completion and then celebrate success. By celebrating success in an inexpensive and sincere manner, the chances are the team and pairs will look forward to doing it again.

 

Just recently, this writer was also involved with a team of five executives. Coupled with their leader, there were four on this senior team. So, the four set-about discussing their forthcoming issues and to eventually rank-order them. Once prioritized, they formed two pair-sets to create action initiatives and move ahead with implementation. Again, their leader proceeded to encourage and keep them focused until completion. Celebrating their success was also essential.

 

Work-pairing – used correctly – can be highly effective, but is too often an underutilized approach for getting important things accomplished. We’ve clung to the traditional way of doling out individual assignments and then expecting solo efforts to take care of them. Around 23% of any typical organization will be comfortable working solo, because those people enjoy showing their singular prowess. However, that grows increasingly less likely with your remaining work-force, where people would prefer collaborating with colleagues to give them encouragement and reinforcement.

 

While more selective recruiting to tap into that top 23% of performers may help, there’s only so far a growing organization can exploit such hiring strategies before it hits up against the realities of our population’s natural distribution curve. Besides, most other traditional organizations crave such a demographic, too. So what do you do?

 

Even though work-pairing can do valuable things even among your top 23% of solo performers as well, it will particularly help working wonders among the next 50% who will really value it. Whenever appropriate, by pairing people up with complementary personalities and naturally qualified colleagues, you will realize much greater performance and focus. A high percentage of people don’t particularly like working alone – we are a gregarious species after-all – so will naturally respond more favorably when paired with a competent colleague. Of course it makes sense to expose them to some sensible work-pairing guidelines, so as to help the arrangement work to everyone’s advantage.

 

One client has struggled for many years to find better ways of onboarding and retaining its frontline workplace people. By chance, it put together two talented young ladies, with a human-resource orientation, where almost overnight they developed proposals and an action initiative for making significant progress. Another client had been struggling with productivity issues within a unionized workforce. It proceeded to find a willing pair to research options, study other similar organization working environments, make proposals, and then implement a package of activities to make considerable progress.

 

This is all a far cry from the traditional project group, consisting of many diverse people around a table, to brainstorm, form committees, and then proceed as a group to put its proposals into action. That action is often pursued by solo individuals or sub-committees. It’s often a lottery as to how such arrangements produce results, relative to the advantages of utilizing work-pairing. In fact, if you wish to form such project groups, then you should subsequently break them down into pairs when looking for action. Once they have outlined their project framework and identified the key issues, pairs will then feel empowered to move ahead.

 

Having said all this, work-pairing at its best requires selecting optimum, complementary pairs. This can be done either

on an ad-hoc basis, where you allow people to choose those they wish to work with, or you can take a more interventionist approach. On occasions the ad hoc approach may work, with the caveat that many pairs may not make all the progress you had hoped for. Too often, in such situations, people may pick someone similar to themselves in a work environment; although less likely to do so when picking a life-long partner. Most successful life-long partnerships are where people choose someone complementary to themselves.

 

While picking someone similar to yourself in a work environment may generate good rapport, the pair may not progress too far with like-minded ideas. They may even become frustrated with each other as they find themselves somewhat spinning their wheels. Consequently, more deliberative and objective pair-choosing is likely to produce much better outcomes. Such pairing requires either rather objective thinking by group leaders or the support of an objective but constructive personality type survey. Either way, it’s better to have complementary pairing rather than like-oriented pairs.

 

We already see many examples of work-pairing around us in everyday life: pilot-pairs in cockpits, police patrols in pairs, ambulance crews work in pairs, military teams work in pairs, and so on. Clearly these are highly sensitive roles, but it does highlight the importance of pairs taking care of special assignments. One could reasonably argue that most organization activities worth doing would benefit from pairing; realizing that some roles are more important than others.

 

Even so, the benefits of pairing include – two heads are often better than one, the possibility to encourage each other, learning from each other, greater chance of meeting critical deadlines, holding each other to commitments, dual handling of timelines and pressures, hassle free vacation time, covering for each other in personal emergencies, higher overall effectiveness – go a long way toward offsetting perceived additional investments with such arrangements.

 

Beyond anything else, with the right pairing there’s likely to be better morale, more creativity and greater all round success.  Take a good hard look and you will find opportunities abound for work-pairing within your organization. You won’t regret it.

______________________________________________________________________

To learn more about team building, please contact:



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
© 1994-2017 Leadership Solutions, Inc (MALRC) All rights reserved

  by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc.®

“The brain is not organized hierarchically but rather as a heterarchical neuro-cognitive system.” One of the early essays on the differences between hierarchical and heterarchical systems by Warren S. McCulloch in 1945.

 

 

   Heterarchies are different animals to hierarchies and so it’s worthwhile comparing the two. Nothing seems to grow from the top down. People grow from the bottom up. Plants, trees and crops grow from the bottom-up, too. Buildings and towers do the same. Hamlets, villages, towns and cities grow from the inside-out. So why is it we’ve become so stuck on hierarchies? Is it because history has honored them as one of the more stable power structures – promoted by religions, monarchies, governments and armies?

 

But now we’re in the 21st century and it’s time to explore alternatives. Power has become increasingly more diffuse through democratization. Power centers are more in flux with increasingly diverse networks of communication. Workplace people seek more empowerment rather than be commanded-and-controlled. Maybe the time has come for utilizing heterarchies instead of hierarchies?  After all, every system reaches the end of its useful life, as is happening with the current approach to manufacturing micro-chips.

 

Your writer is familiar with two types of people-organized heterarchies:

  • A power-heterarchy, rather like the brain, where the focus is constantly shifting toward who has the resources, know-how and leadership talent to attract people’s followership – see “The Riddle of Heterarchy: Power Transitions in Cross-functional Teams” by Aime, Humphrey, DeRue and Paul -2014. John Naisbitt has also shared similar thoughts with his ‘Teal Organization.’
  • A communal-market focused heterarchy, as per the one about to be described, is likely to be much more performance effective than traditional hierarchies. Its focus is around market opportunities or threats and how it adapts to take advantage of or avoid those two possibilities. It readily shifts its internal resources, organization and know-how to handle the situation. And so, instead of being focused on changing internal power-brokers, it is primarily focused on key external interests. It is orchestrated from the center outward rather than from above – see the below example. More importantly, it focuses the organization’s members on key areas outside the organization rather than politics on the inside.
 

History has shown that all astute political leaders, who are experiencing discontent at “home,” focus their people on issues outside their borders in order to recapture their focus. So why shouldn’t leaders at large draw upon this reality? Why continue to batten-down on your people – ala managing them; when finding significant issues elsewhere of importance or concern to your workforce, can give you and your executives tremendous motivational advantage?

 

In this example, you can see the Visionist orchestrating from the center rather than at the apex. He/She is there with Board members and is focused outward, along with key Strategists and specific team clusters. These clusters will either have similar or diverse competencies dependent on their client serving role. They will also have Team Leaders to focus and encourage team contributors.

 

Wherever possible team contributors will work in pairs, since work-pairing has many advantages over individual performers. We will discuss this more in our next Phase 4 – Enlightened Teambuilding article. Such teams constantly feedback market observations; to be absorbed and acted upon by other clusters, Strategists, the Visionist and eventually by owners or Board members…all looking outward from the center.

 

Power-heterarchies can invite potential struggles and possible confusion, at least for a while, especially with those more used to hierarchies. A company like W.L. Gore & Associates – proprietor of well-known products like Gore-Tex – has successfully used such an approach for many years and has been viewed as more dynamic and profitable than most mainstream organizations. It has no formal titles and is known for empowering natural leaders to develop and promote products valuable to the marketplace. In this case, it is also known as a Teal organization.

 

Coming back to the communal-market focused – potentially named as a ComMark – organization, it has many of the advantages of a heterarchy (He) although also lightly uses some of the perceived benefits of a hierarchy (Hi) as below:

 

» Outward focus minimizes internal power struggles (He).

» Use of formal leadership roles – such as Team Leaders, Strategists and Visionist – brings organizational clarity (Hi).

» Gore-Tex’s (in top 100 listed companies as best place to work) role of Associate morphs into your Contributor, where workplace people are viewed as either High Contributors, Contributors or Non-Contributors – workplace people are available to contribute (He) rather than be employed (Hi).

» Outward focus naturally reminds people of their true primary purpose: To provide customers-clients-users-beneficiaries with an extraordinary experience. Done in an effective way, that balances customer and shareholder interests, it can only make the (He) organization that much more productive and robust.

» Allows contributors to feel more empowered and creative (He), versus a slave to protocol and hierarchy (Hi).

» Permits greater natural teamwork, as people collaborate to meet perceived market and customer needs (He).

 

The only thing preventing more companies taking this more empowering, creative and profitable approach with a ComMark organization is our inherent conservatism, preference for working with what’s familiar, and serving the interests of people who enjoy power. Our traditional approach is reinforced by managers who seek power, rather than leaders who offer empowerment. When will you be ready to offer greater people engagement through offering a ComMark-focused work environment?

Hierarchies don’t engage people; except those who seek power.

Heterarchies will engage people; because they’re primarily focused on customer-market needs – that is, natural entities requiring attention outside of those people’s organizations.

 

To learn more about workplace people engagement, talk with:



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
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