The human brain is not meant to form or follow a structured process. Some people have mastered the disciplined patience needed to do it better than others, but generally our ability to reproduce has not historically been enhanced by the paint-by-the-numbers approach to doing things and has therefore never entered our genes. Some of you engineers out there may disagree, but I know a couple of them, and believe me, they are not reproducing. I kid because I love.
On Dustin Mattison’s blog, he describes Charles Ehin’s work regarding putting management more in line with the way we actually get work done. I’m intrigued enough to potentially read the book, but why wait to understand the depth behind what he is saying before forming a judgement?! He loses me a bit when he talks of building self-organizing systems…to me you still need leadership to at least give the evolution a push and re-organize as necessary, but I love the concept.
A couple key points that really hit home:
1. Everyone takes responsibility for what happens in the organization – Yes, yes, and throw in another yes. The manager/leader that needs to fix everything and takes responsibility for everything that happens “beneath” them is heroic and very military, but not practical. However, that kind of atmosphere must be created…it can not happen without people feeling free to make things happen. It also can’t happen when people are blamed for things. It also can’t happen when loyalty for the program is valued above talent and skill. I could go on, but season 5 of “Lost” is waiting. (Yes, I know I’m behind….thanks.)
2. This is part of the everyone takes responsibility part, but deserves its own number – No one is allowed to say “I didn’t do that because I wasn’t told.” Oftentimes true, but as Ehin points out, if you know what is going on and everyone is anticipating the needs of others, and feels empowered to do stuff, less stuff will slip through the cracks. Did I just make a rule in a blog post about reducing the emphasis on formal systems? Did I mention that our human brains cause us to be hypocritical?
3. People are encouraged to form networks to get things done – formal channels often can’t keep pace.
4. Love the idea that management is moving towards taking into account how our brains actually work. There is much more work to be done here and hopefully some thought leadership on this blog in the weeks and months ahead.