Collective intelligence : the neglected side of organizations

Why would anyone build an organizational structure so rigid that no innovation is possible ?
Why would anybody create procedures that suffocate initiative while simultaneously promoting a job position requiring creativity and vision ?
Why would anyone WANT to work in such an organization and then complain that work is boring ?

Today’s work place is a dichotomy.
To say the least.

Most organizations see their morale go down year after year, along with the engagement level of most of their employees.
It is no surprise that the engagement level is inversely proportional to the number of hierarchical levels between an employee and top management. What is more surprising is that the engagement level of managers is also going down.
Not that surprising.

I was stunned a few years ago when I asked to some participants what was their authority level on their organization. I meant specifically, how much can YOU spend without additional authorization ?
Their answer flabbergasted me.
Or rather… the absence of a response.
Therefore, they assumed it was …ZERO !

How can ANYONE have any initiative if they do not know their limit ?

Oh, of course, if there are NO LIMIT, the task is easy. However, bureaucracy has been very good at imposing limits.
Budget limits.
Initiative limits.
Communication limits.
In some cases, limits’ limits !!

Look at this (taken from Wikipedia)

  1. A proper division of responsibilities.
  2. Sufficient power conferred to enable the same to be fully carried out, that such responsibilities may be real in their character.
  3. The means of knowing whether such responsibilities are faithfully executed.
  4. Great promptness in the report of all derelictions of duty, that evils may at once be corrected.
  5. Such information to be obtained through a system of daily reports and checks that will not embarrass principal officers nor lessen their influence with their subordinates.
  6. The adoption of a system, as a whole, which will not only enable the general superintendent to detect errors immediately, but will also point out the delinquent.

This is from Wikipedia ’s page on Daniel McCullum ’s Principle of Management.

Written in 1865.

So much has not changed in managing organization in the last 150 years.
Except that EVERYTHING else has changed around the organization.

VUCA is the rule

Complexity and

Everything is VUCA …. but the management style in most organization.

It is truly easier to control traffic with a traffic light than it is with a roundabout as Bjarte Bognses, Vice-President of Statoil, describes in this excellent video.

But traffic is much better managed with the more difficult solution of the roundabout because it relies on intelligence, flexibility, adaptability to actual circumstances and not on

Budget limit
Ego battle
Silo management
Opaque communication rules

The question is : do you manage your business with trafic light or do you rely on a roundabout ?

In other words
Do you have rules and procedures for everything
or do you use the collective intelligence of your workforce and a set of principles based on a clear vision ?

Collective intelligence has been the neglected side of organizations for too long.

Turn on the light of the collective intelligence of your workforce.

Not the traffic light.

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