"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change!" - Charles Darwin

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Cultural transformation through deliberate practice of behaviors

This week I was at LESS2012 conference.
The conference overall was really interesting and I would like to start right away to share with you the 3 most inspiring things I brought home with me from the sessions I attended.

  1. The first one is from Jurgen Appelo’s keynote.
The whole performance rocked as usual, but I'm sure you will agree that the following concept is really great. He said that the verb “Manage” come from Italian “Maneggiare” and from French “Menage” which originally meant “drive and take care of horses”.
So Management is actually driving and taking care of organizations as they were living beings and they are indeed. That’s why management is too important to be left to managers: we must all lead.

  1. The second great quote is from Beyond Budgeting track hosted by Peter Bunce (Chairman of BBRT) and Bjarte Bogsnes.
They echoed Steve Jobs saying: I discovered that sometimes the best innovation is the company, the way you organize the company
We need a more self-regulating way of management. We all agree in principle with this, but the problem is bringing this to practical consequences.
Most companies say or write that, but the problem is what we do, not what we say.
There are most times gaps between what we say and what we do and this gap is poison for the organizations.

  1. Last reflections come from the other 2 keynotes.
Christopher Avery pointed out that traditional managers are always looking for single point of accountability, but collaboration does not work with single points of accountability.
Esko Kilpi added that from a social business standpoint, the individualistic view is fundamentally misleading: there's co-creation. So is the sense of personal responsibility. The new competitive edge will come from openness, transparent information and collaboration.

Awesome, isn’t it?

On the last day I held my workshop Learning to be a manager in the age of Agile.
The question I put was just the following.
If all the changes above are needed in 21st century management, compared to current mainstream management (still focusing on the very same practices invented more than 100 years ago with totally a different goal than making our companies responsive, adaptable and innovative), what is a feasible path to get there?

The proposal I made is based on 3 steps:
  1. Challenging current management beliefs
  2. Challenging your actions in the light of Agile and Lean principles
  3. Deliberate practice of functional behaviors in line with the principles
The idea is to break the maps wired so far in our brain by all experiences and beliefs in our life and which we follow naturally like a river bed to interpret the reality. Then build instead, drop by drop, new side river beds, which could allow us to see the reality with new eyes and act accordingly.

After the conference I had the pleasure to discuss this approach with Dawna Jones, who very well pointed out how just focusing on behaviors allows to achieve only short term and not permanent cultural changes.
I agree this is very true and indeed in line with the approach I suggested. Deliberate practice of behaviors (like deliberate practice of technical skills) and continuous self reflection are just ways to understand the values behind. This will allow behaviors to become habits and enter deeper in our brain and heart to create new beliefs, new assumptions, new structures and ultimately a new culture to provide different responses to our evolving reality.

It’s the management Shu-Ha-Ri!

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