woensdag 13 maart 2013

Begging for Feed-back

I recently read that in the short term we in the West must not expect revolutionary new technological inventions. Technological innovation will mainly need to build on existing technology and therefore productivity increase on this basis will be modest in size.

If that’s the case indeed, more profits and faster productivity growth are to be expected of social innovation. By which I mean the fixing of the energy leak which in many organizations exists because people do not or too little cooperate. And also I mean the stopping of the waste of money, time and talent which results from dysfunctional beliefs about management.

That energy leak and waste are usually not caused because employees or managers have bad intentions, but because the organization through budgets and powers is sometimes arranged in such way as to set people against each other instead of bringing them together. And that in its turn is caused because we are saddled with obsolete, dysfunctional beliefs about management and organization. These limit, consciously or unconsciously, our space for movement and improvement.

Take the views on management and leadership. In most organizations it are still mainly forms of hierarchical thinking and command structures that determine which concepts are associated with management. These include concepts such as power, competency, the ability to override others. And far fewer – apart from exceptions – a serving and facilitating attitude.

Then this is what you get: managers who get a kick out of their decision-making-power and who in intimate moments don’t keep secret that they are in that position because they cannot stand that others tell them what to do. But who at the same time do not but expect that others are able to do precisely that.

And you get relatively many frightened employees, who have effectively been silenced.

That pinches of course, and those managers may as well feel the pinching. They largely, despite their formal power, fail to achieve what they aim at. And they feel that more is needed, and – above all – something else: they should engage in genuine consultation with “their” people. But at this point also impotence enters the story: they have to listen but because of the way they have organized things and because of their character structure that does not work properly. They beg for feedback, but what follows is a deathly silence. Touching, almost.

This is not managable any longer by hurling in a top-down way some more behavioral science and communication tricks into the organization. Here another way of social interaction is required. Which justifiably may be called: social innovation.

Also see Trust