A colleague once said of his rancorous department, “these people can’t be led.” Complex governance and diffuse decision making had crossed the line to create a Complex Legislative Organization (CLO). No one disagrees that appropriate process is important to an organization’s results, but at a certain point this wholly internal affair becomes counter-productive. Managing around this threshold is increasingly challenging in change and crisis. [Read more...]
A smoothly-running EOC is a work of art. (Just finished a gig as an observer at UCSD’s annual disaster exercise where one of the world’s best – Phillip Van Saun – ran the show). This EOC turned a sprawling University into a synthetic organization for a few hours.)
Jim Collins said that “social sector leaders need both executive skills, the exercise of direct power, and legislative skills, the ability to influence people through motivation and persuasion—the latter being more nuanced and more difficult to learn.” Change and crisis automatically push the organization from legislative leadership back toward the executive leadership pole of the continuum. [Read more...]
Executive leadership morphs toward legislative leadership as complex governance and diffuse decision making emerge, according to Jim Collins. Many organizations plod along with some effectiveness as homes for legislative leadership – the ultimate example may be the U.S. Senate or a Quaker college where essentially any individual can stop the show. [Read more...]
We should all be looking for the “M-spot” to answer the perpetual question of how much mitigation is enough? Whether managing change or crisis we should hope to mitigate vulnerabilty. Some not-so-scientific thoughts follow… [Read more...]
Using an unusual method for research on at-risk populations in a South American barrio, a friend watched as community members filed forward and placed individual matchsticks in specific areas of the map, thus creating a population density chart for her evaluation project. As one individual stepped up he broke the matchstick in half, said “this is me”, placed it on the map, and then walked away. Apparently all gathered around the table collectively held their breath – then a shared sigh passed through the room.
Adaptive management paradigms (AMPs!) helped me think about the different toolkits needed for local and global management practice. The two contexts seem to be different, requiring different emphases. [Read more...]
The Jesuits have thrived for nearly 500 years. Surely there is a sustainability loop here somewhere. [Read more...]
While at Cambridge University several generations ago, I researched an historical management case study focused on sustainable organizations. An innovative clergyman, Charles Simeon, created a 5-step cycle that fixed a minority group in English ecclesiastical society “to the remotest ages” through a strategy that generated a balancing loop, which offset an existing reinforcing loop. Reinforcing loops are cycles that build momentum each time a loop is completed. They can work like virtuous circles or like death spirals. (The former are preferable, btw.) To counter a death spiral, you need a balancing loop. (But if it’s an airplane were talking about, better use the parachute.) [Read more...]
Bob Sutton picked up on a pertinent subject once again in bad is stronger than good. I was initially most amazed by the need for five times as many affirmations as negatives in a marriage or romantic relationship. I confess to being a grumpy husband at times. John Gottman wrote some good books and in at least one, demonstrated that he could predict marital success just by listening to whether spouses despised each other in a brief, video-taped record of a marriage interaction.
No, it doesn’t show up in the Fortune 500 or any other business list de jour. Peter Drucker thought the Salvation Army got the nod. At one point, the world’s largest nonprofit (supplanted by the United Way when they apparently started counting their branches differently), this group brings an entirely new dimension to effectiveness and crisis management.
Peter Drucker said that constituencies were different in business than in politics. Essentially they were single issue groups who did not always seek to make their company or organization successful, profitable or effective. (Sometimes whistleblowers start out this way and that’s not a bad thing. Why they operate and where they end up is the true test.)
Observers of celebrities can move from natural skepticism to trust and followership. The celebrity leads through an assumed and artificial credibility. Observers become followers by buying into this credibility, essentially trusting a truth created and amplified by technology and made meaningful by an evolving brand, (whether well-managed or not), as the following crowd grows and sometimes even goes viral.
As soon as enough people give you enough compliments and you’re wielding more power than you’ve ever had in your life, it’s not that you become…arrogant…or become rude to people, but you get a false sense of your own importance and what you’ve accomplished. You actually think you’ve altered the course of history. Leonard0 DiCaprio
If you want to lead you need a transformative crisis. This from Bill George and Andrew Maclean who write about transformative leadership passages. (By the way, the lack of one may contribute to what holds many “gap leaders” in the nonperformance zone. They simply never had the tears or scars required to move on.)
But the price is high.
Actually, this is not about leaping sea creatures at Sea World, but moves toward deeper waters…
PORPS teach us lessons about leadership and sustaining organizations.
Thinking about the broader concept of odysseys needed by an increasing number of adolescents accelerated because of an impassioned phone call from my 21-year old son Sam. Fresh from a university-sponsored trek through Death Valley and in cell phone range on a reprovisioning stop, he almost breathlessly recounted what appeared to be a transforming experience for him. Our co-pilgrimage [me, my wife Janis and Sam], officially starting when he walked away from a traditional high school at 15, generated some gray hair and sleepless nights for us. At times these six years mimicked the anxious times when our eldest wandered the alleys of large Iraqi cities lugging an M-16. Other than crediting almost ceaseless prayer in the years prior, what happened to Sam in Death Valley that created this conversation?
6) Trash current ideas about accreditation and start over
I’m all for accreditation. I’m pedaling as fast as I can right now to get some for our MBA and PhD programs. (and, okay, “trash” is a strong word). The assessment of quality and the process of continuous improvement are huge issues now, ranging from the concerns of the U.S. federal government on down to my desire to get value and results for the tuition that I’m paying to a small liberal arts college for my son. Degree mills and dropout factories make common standards necessary.
November 11, 2005
Today, my friend Peter Drucker died. That thousands of other men and women around the world can say the same thing is a testament to his character and his reach, over time and across cultures.