In businesses as well as our personal lives, the speed with which advancing technology has brought change to how we function in so many ways. It creates true head-spinning. Just when we feel like we have mastered the last innovation and we are functioning easily, the next one arrives, and the learning must begin anew. Along with the excitement is created stress which can readily work again our individual and collective success.
I was recently introduced to the writings of Professor Ichak Adizes. He is at the helm of the Adizes Institute and is considered one of the world’s leading management experts. I listened to his presentation entitled “The Future of Management” in which he conveyed his beliefs on where we are in business today, where we came from and how we got from there to here. Furthermore, he expressed and related the concerns he foresees as we stay on our current evolutionary path.
I want to highlight some of the key points that Adizes has made and believe that you, the reader, will find them as interesting and thought provoking as I have.
Point # 1
‘The rate of change is unprecedented in the world. This is being driven by technology.’
Of course, there is little argument to make as anyone working in any kind of business has seen approaches and processes change dramatically. And speed of change has increased to an extent that it becomes a blur in one’s attempt to keep up and operate with the latest and greatest.
Point # 2
‘Everything in the world is a system. Each system is comprised of sub-systems. As humans we have sub-systems the likes of blood, nervous and skeletal. As a country these sub areas include economic, technological, legal and social. What we know is that sub-systems do not all change at the same speed. This creates problems. When systems don’t change at the same speed it creates gaps and cracks’
It doesn’t take long to validate this thinking by looking within a business today. As Adizes indicates,
- The marketing department has a great idea that can impact the success of the company.
- They present it to the advertising department that needs to understand and determine that realistic price and approach based on the value the product will provide.
- The Sales department now must understand and then devise a sales approach that will attract customers who will want to buy this product.
- Computer programs must be changed to reflect this new or improved product
- Finally, the people producing and delivering this product need to understand and buy into it as if their invention. And people are the most difficult ones to change!
When the sub-systems don’t change at the same speed it creates gaps and cracks which in turn allows the system to become disintegrated. The higher the rate of change, the faster the disintegration. This, then, is what we would call a problem. And with such problems we grow the stress within the company and within the individuals involved in it.
Some twenty years ago an awareness of silos within an organization became very apparent. ‘My department is doinggreat … what’s your problem and you need to find out what it is and fix it’. The realization became that for an organization to hit their goals and targets, all needed to be focused on the overall company goal. Each area needed to design their efforts and approaches to achieve their part. Failure to do so would impact the other components and ultimately, the ability for the organization to hit the target. And above, they had to be willing to help those having challenges to overcome their obstacles. They needed to see themselves as a cohesive team with each needing the success of all to achieve the goal. This was then.
Today, when so much of what a company does and offers is impacted by the technology used to do this, it has once again, created a potential silo environment. This is contributing to loss of interest and motivation within the employee ranks. This has and can serve to slow down the rate of movement due to the disintegration that ongoing innovation has created.
Point # 3
‘Integrated systems require respect of others responsible for achieving the goal. With respect, we will learn from each other. This equals synergy which results in energy that leads to constructive integration. All of this happens when we respect different voices and trust that there is common interest despite differences. Respect differences and share the benefits you create together.
The lightening speed with which technological advances have altered the business environment have created internal competition that has gone beyond a healthy competitive approach. With different areas wanting to outdo others within the organization it tends to work against the desired progress and related timeline. The competition has come inside to an unhealthy degree when it is really the external competitors who require the focus.
Point # 4
‘Collaborative leadership rather than single individual leadership needs to be the mission. There should be no single leader. As such, one is promoting respect. It serves to reduce stress in the workplace. As well, we must realign sub-systems to that they don’t outpace each other and advance together. This too reduces damaging stress at work.’
Leaders that encourage the ideas, thoughts and approaches that all have to offer and remain open to seeing things differently are ultimately going to be more successful. Successful in retaining talent and creating a work environment where all feel valued and trusted. They also accelerate the energy that all willingly put into the job of meeting the expectation to the nth degree.
I have only touched upon Professor Adizes’ beliefs. To me they deserve thoughtful consideration as you evaluate where your organization is today. Technology has rendered the use of our brains a back burner activity. Artificial intelligence is on a path to rule our worlds. That is, unless we recognize that as humans working together, we can learn and apply all the ongoing innovation in a most successful way. Respecting and welcoming differences is the key to creating the harmony that leads to success.
Here is one meaningful quote from the professor. Peace is not sameness. Peace is Harmony. Pay attention to that word. Harmony is multiple voices singing together. Everyone singing in the same voice is not harmony.”
Now we just need to learn the song … or is it ‘RE-learn the song?
P.S. To hear the full recording of Prof. Adizes go here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofhdzRjK96U