Free the Potential – become a leader in a Sustainable society…

Path forward

Following one of my prior blog-posts “Management in a Sustainable future…” I got a lot of comments and interesting impulses – many people seem to have realized that our out-dated Management systems needs to change, and to change quickly if corporations are going to “survive” the transition to a Sustainable society.

“Management in all business and organizational activities is the act of coordinating the efforts of people to accomplish desired goals and objectives using available resources efficiently and effectively“

When looking at the interpretation of “Management” in Wikipedia, this is the first sentence.
– Have we, in reality, mistakenly believed that Management and Managers also are “Leaders” and “Visionaries” – are they, in reality, only “caretakers” of a process to “accomplish desired goals”….

This would certainly explain some things, especially when the “mantra” expressed by many corporate executives “to maximize the value that they deliver for their shareholders” is also added to the equation…

Management “or” Leadership.

It is quite amazing how even experienced managers become a little unsure and uncomfortable when you start talking about “real” Sustainability.

Could it be that there are too many variables and that we have been living in a “regulated” society and business-life for so long that our skills to invent, to find new solutions outside these boundaries have diminished? Has the long history of “only ROI is important” finally resulted in only that…

Could it be that the current predominant management-style is so “Goal-focused” that it has difficulty to address a change of “context”?

Could it be that we confuse complexity with “thing’s being complicated” the way Dr Bettina von Stamm so eloquently describes in a recent article in the Guardian.

Sustainability is not a destination; it is a way of life.

Transition from one “type” of Society into a significantly different one will not be a “search-and-replace” operation. Chances that each and every function in our current Society can, or even should, be replaced with a “duplicate with sustainable features” are close to none – although there might be one or two…

The consequences from the transition will be more profound and versatile then most of us probably realize at this point – we are entering an era where no one has been before.

To do this transition will take Great Leadership, not only “caretaking of processes…”

Organisations & Corporations

When looking at the way organisations are set-up, it is not unusual to find very strict hierarchies with a lot of “boxes and connectors” often in combination with huge amounts of “job descriptions”, detailed management systems with a lot of rules, checklists and obligations.

From outside it seems as if corporations have totally optimized their process – “at least right now” – but what about tomorrow, what about when we move to a sustainable society?

In the table below is an array of suggestions on what is “in” and what is “out” within management–trends of today.

Whats In-Out

Many of these suggestions are according to executives already articulated when Corporations have stated “Missions” and “Visions” – attempting, along with “Corporate Values”, to envision the “core identity and future” of their organization.

Is this true…?

According to a 2012 study by Right Management/Manpower:

…65% of people are unhappy at work, only 14% understand their company’s strategy and many do not recognise the behaviours described in their company’s values…


How about your organisation – are you “well geared” for the transition to a Sustainable society?

Future is HERE – we need to act NOW.

Change has become the new “steady-state” and it is accelerating – making complicated hierarchic structures and management systems obsolete at a rate where continuous re-organising and re-writing of rules and routines becomes a continuous and never-ending story. Simultaneous to this accelerating change a new generation is joining the workforce

The future Sustainable corporations need to operate in a significantly different way

Let me share some (maybe a little abstract) reflections on this topic…

The “Shepherd-technique…”
When looking at a flock of sheep with a shepherd I always find it quite fantastic how the shepherd and his dog are always behind the heard, occasionally on the sides, but very seldom in front of.

It is also fantastic to see how the heard find the “best” way forward, how they “flow” around obstacles and how they eventually reach their goal.

The same thing with water, when a river is flooded, water is going multiple ways until it settles in a “main stream” – this way all opportunities to avoid obstacles, to find the shortest route etc is quickly tested

I wonder if Corporations using a similar technique would be successful – Instead of “stubbornly” focusing on only one way to reach the goal, often based on what they carry in their “backpack” or what they see in their rear-view mirror, they learn by doing, test multiple ways forward and focus on continuously providing the organization with feedback, proven solutions etc. based on what they learn.

Simultaneously, these corporations might gain a couple of other advantages – the next solution is always based on the latest “proven solution”, the next solution always include development from the latest “proven solution”, which encourages staff to develop and to improve – to use their skill, to improve techniques, to learn and to always be a little better, instead of struggling to meet standards that “someone else” has decided is “the way things should always be done”…

The tricky thing is; to facilitate such a technique demands that the Corporation have, and constantly work with their values, vision etc. so that the overall “direction” is clear to all and that certain “minimum standards” always are fulfilled.

Unleash the potential

UnleashOne of the comments to my previous blog-post came from UNLEASH SPP Ltd in London UK, together with their latest whitepaper
Unleashing: The Future of Work
(free download)

Having read this whitepaper I am prepared to revise my opinion that “so little have happened” with management training etc over time.

The methodology described, emphasising on “the Journey” as a change and learning process rather than old fashioned “goal setting” and “implementation of decided organisation set-ups” is definitely the way forward and to evolve organisations into a Sustainable society.
The whitepaper also is an excellent brief summary of the evolution of management “so far”, the challenges of mixing generations and a whole lot of other related issues.

This is a very interesting approach and definitely worth reading – thank you very much UNLEASH team for sharing it.

The challenge is on – are you going to be a Leader…