October 23, 2017

How disruptive is too disruptive?

Group of people listeningSometime we need shaken up a bit. We get set in our ways. We fail to notice that the world has changed around us.

So a disruptive input can be good for us—what we need, even if it isn’t very comfortable at the time. No doubt we will need to settle back to some stability after the upheaval, perhaps without becoming quite so ossified next time around. Or maybe we’ll manage to institute some continuous adaptation. That would be better.

From the interventionist’s perspective, how disruptive should we be?

Probably more disruptive than feels comfortable for us.

Oddly enough, to strengthen the relationship, we might need to put it at risk.

Can you governance your way to innovation?

GatheringIt’s the modern management obsession: “governance” and, to a degree, quite rightly so. We do need our organisations and our projects to be well-managed.

The trouble is…

Governance on its own isn’t enough to prepare an organisation for the future. We can’t legislate for innovation and adaptation. I don’t think so anyway.

Somewhere, there needs to be enough freedom to try something new, and forgiveness if it doesn’t work out first time.

And yet…

Some organisations and some leaders – or maybe it would be more accurate to say some managers – seem to think that if only they govern rigorously enough, their organisation will be adaptable and agile.

But I believe they stand in the same position as those who attempted to succeed with a Soviet-style planned economy.

A balance is required: a combination of governance and freedom. Sounds like a contradiction? Probably it is, but that’s what’s needed. And the art of a leader – perhaps as opposed to a manager – is to hold the space for that ambiguity to exist in a tolerable and stimulating way.

What do you think?

Can strong governance and adaptation co-exist? Or is governance alone enough if it’s done sufficiently effectively?

Is slow adaptation the price we pay for democracy?

High Street sceneIn the West in particular, we believe in democracy, almost without thinking, but is it being abused?

You see…

When we elect a leader, we need them to lead, even if, in fact, we don’t like the consequences for us very much. That’s their job – to lead. That’s what we put them there for, not to spend their time working on getting re-elected.

But are we complicit? When the time comes to re-elect, do we reward the strong leader, or the politician who tells us it’s all going to be OK (when we suspect it isn’t)?

Modern political leaders often don’t seem to truly lead. They conceal uncomfortable truths. They are obsessed with opinion polls. They duck the tough decisions that we might say it’s their duty to take. They push the problems down the road, as the challenges all the while get more serious. Witness the Eurozone, Rio, public debt, and more.

And so problems don’t get handled.

Is the price we pay for democracy slow adaptation to change and weak response to crises?

How could it be different?

And is it a bit like this in organizations?

Do you take the tough decisions you need to take?