“Remember before the internet?” asks Joi Ito. “Remember when people used to try to predict the future?” In this engaging talk, the head of the MIT Media Lab skips the future predictions and instead shares a new approach to creating in the moment: building quickly and improving constantly, without waiting for permission or for proof that you have the right idea. This kind of bottom-up innovation is seen in the most fascinating, futuristic projects emerging today, and it starts, he says, with being open and alert to what’s going on around you right now. Don’t be a futurist, he suggests: be a now-ist.
Inspiring leadership is what we have all been led to believe creates successful businesses. The fact that history is dotted with examples of successful companies which businesses study closely for clues their own leaders can emulate, clearly shows that we believe there is a formulaic style of leadership which is key to a thriving business. If only it were that simple. Kate Tojeiro, founder of progressive leadership consultancy, X-Fusion, takes a closer look at two key types of leaders.
Over the last year or so, a fascinating bow wave of interest has been converging on a growing cadre of companies who appear to be doing something quite novel and seemingly new. Specifically, these organizations have apparently thrown off many of the traditional structures and processes of corporate management. Interestingly, all of these organizations are focusing on change through people first, technology second, if at all.
Control: It’s the essence of management. We’re trained to measure inputs, throughputs, and outputs in hopes of increasing efficiency and producing desired results. In a world of linear processes, such as in the factories of the Industrial Age, that made sense. But in today’s knowledge economy, where enterprises are complex, adaptive systems, it’s counterproductive.
The real problem is confusion between control and order. Control implies centralized control and hierarchical relationships. The person with control tells others what to do and whether they are successful or not. Order, on the other hand, emerges from self-organization. There may not be anyone telling others what to do, yet things get done—often with great efficiency and effectiveness. People know what is expected of them and what they can expect of others.
But how can this be true? Mustn’t an orchestra have a conductor? A dance troupe, a choreographer? A company, a CEO?
Not necessarily. Nature abounds with examples of what is known as swarm intelligence. Termites build intricate dwellings without the benefit of set of plans or engineers with advanced degrees. Birds migrate thousands of miles in formations where the lead position rotates to optimize their collective capacity. There are no marching orders or hierarchies dictating who leads. Massive flocks of starlings engage in intricate maneuvers known as murmuration with neither collisions nor confusion. There is order without overarching control. Indeed, our obsession with control helps explain why human-designed organizations fail to achieve such beautiful synchronicity.
Business, organization and culture change are hot topics in the corporate world today. However, they often remain conceptual thinking: implementation is seen as difficult. Where to start? The trigger can be as simple as a meeting. But not the usual one. Here’s an example of how a single, different type of meeting can kick off a new collaborative culture.
I remember a few years ago, every conference I went to featured a talk about Design Thinking. The term, which refers to how companies tackle problem solving in co-creative and multidisciplinary teams using a fast-paced and iterative approach, possibly got a bit over-used. Then, user experience and digital innovation started grabbing the headlines, and Design Thinking started to fall by the side.
Cries of "no more managers" and "end the hierarchy" are well-intentioned efforts to accelerate the ongoing paradigm shift in management, but they are counterproductive: all organizations are hierarchical and all have managers.
Getting rid of managers may seem like just another tech trend, but much of the skepticism around going “bossless” or flat is due to misleading terminology.
Gisele HELOU's insight:
Rather than assigning and approving tasks at every turn, then, management is about keeping people in motion and getting out of their way.
Power, leadership, and even hierarchy still exist in these alternative structures, but instead of running along career ladders and hanging out in corner offices, they tend to be decentralized and dynamic rather than static and top-down.
Q. In your opinion, what is one important leadership trait that male leaders can learn from women in business? The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program…