Solving the leadership conundrum.

Organizational problem: moving from the hub and spoke, one leader model, to real team work: Why Motivating Others Starts With Using The Right Language (Via Lifehacker).

  • Cultural problem: competing as a team vs infighting. The road to capitalism is paved with soviet style run companies.
  • Cultural problem: countering the office politics, no bloody idea of professionalism mentality that pervades in certain societies.
  • Cultural problem: dealing with coworkers with little motivation, or obstructionists.
  • Cultural problem: those of us who don’t want to be “the leader”.

Partial  solution: a transparent framework in which people move from being told what to do to proposing solutions and needing less oversight:

  1. Tell me what to do.
  2. I think…
  3. I recommend…
  4. I’d like to…
  5. I intend to…
  6. I just did…
  7. I’ve been doing…

Each step up implies:

  1. Knowing what each function does, the inputs required and output expected.
  2. Better knowledge of what we do as a team: results.
  3. More responsibilities, more freedom.
  4. Less managing costs which could be specified (e.g. hours of manager’s time).
  5. Better communication so your own manager doesn’t need to track you down.




Teaching smart people how to learn (Chris Argyris)

Originally from HBR. Summary:

Professionals are good at “Single loop” learning (solving problem at hand), bad at reflexive (“double loop”) learning (asking about causes of the original problem) because of defensive reasoning. Motivation is not enough to entice reflexive learning.

Theory of action vs theory in action: we don’t act like we think we should act. Theories in action that explain defensive reasoning seem to follow four values “to avoid embarrassment or threat, feeling vulnerable or incompetent”:

  • Remain in control.
  • Maximize winning and minimize losing.
  • Suppress negative feelings.
  • Define clear objectives and evaluate their behavior on whether they were achieved.

“Companies can use these universal human tendencies to teach people how to reason in a new way”: “behaving consistently and performing effectively”.

My consequences for a network of knowledge specialists:

  • Establish the benefits of reflexive learning: new business opportunities, ways of improving the customer experience, lowering costs, leveraging knowledge across the organization.
  • Establish a specific appreciation of reflexive learning by participants (e.g. points, contribution to solutions).
  • Establish an organization wide map of what we have been learning.
  • Establish the same standard for everyone, transparently.
  • Attract people who value reflexive learning, filter out people with destructive attitudes, beyond single loop reasoning.
  • Establish a clear plan to help people move from single loop to reflexive learning.