Simple is a concept and an acronym. Each letter of the word SIMPLE stands for something:
The words are carefully chosen, not because the 1st letters of it simply forms the word SIMPLE. This word SIMPLE has been the main starting point in my thoughts in this series of weblogs.
With the set of approaches or principles inserted in SIMPLE, I want to appeal to managers, leaders and many so-called coaches to remind them all, that there are alternatives to traditional management mindsets en methods. And also that it is very difficult to comprehend for these people, because they have been brainwashed with old school management theories for ages.
But mainly I want to put some heart into the people, who are confronted daily with the traditional management ways, or who can’t avoid the kind of managers I mentioned above. Wouldn’t it be great if I could find the right tone for you guys? That would be in the spirit of SIMPLE!
But now for the letter M, which stands for: Mission driven!
I want to address your mission in life vs. the mission of the organization you work for. It’s about whether that organizational mission is something you can connect or commit to. Whether you can find the balance between your own goals in life and the goals of the organization where you work. Which is actually the most important in work & life balance.
It’s about the ability to lead yourself and not be lead. And it is about the leadership competencies of your manager. I’ve previously written that leaders, together with others, will determine the direction of the organization. Leaders will rise above themselves and respect people that have an opinion that isn’t right up their alley.
Leaders can communicate with love, or at least in a non-violent way. But I’ll get to that when we are upon the letter L of simple. The L of love and leadership.
To determine the direction of a business you must have a joint mission.
The joint mission
We now live in a time where people put emphasis on meaningful and motivating goals. It is what they are attracted to. What they themselves want to achieve as individuals, not as followers. Not as some kind of dolly for one or the other ‘charismatic’ manager or decision maker. Leaders therefore test if the vision and mission is attractive and gives energy. If this mission has such parallels, people can connect their own standards and values to it. And when not, they can ask for comments or fearless criticism.
The coherent mission
A mission should be about the bigger picture. It is a kind of ecosystem in which workers find themselves. It needs to pay not only attention for the ‘things’ within a subsystem such as a function, a department or a specific vocational training. But it has to pay attention to connections between people, to the whole system and the relationship between the components of that system.
So, what can we do to create a coherent mission? Well, it depends if we are open to changes and dissenters. Not only in projects or at work but also in networks, associations, in politics and in science.
The way to do that is by:
1. Non-linear thinking and Inclusive thinking (non exclusive thinking)
2. not just multidisciplinary but interdisciplinary thinking
3. Systems thinking
1. Non-linear thinking and Inclusive thinking (non exclusive thinking)
I like to call this ‘circular thinking’. It’ll provide for richer thoughts and theories that are less 1-dimensional. It works like this:
• Request the input of someone else.
• Wait a while longer to state your own opinion.
• Listen and look at insights of other people.
• Decide as late as possible what is the right solution.
• Admit that you don’t actually know (which is especially difficult).
• Allow coincidence in decision-making.
An example of this can be seen in the Socratic ‘ House of Commons ‘ debate or in a discussion. It is where you, defend the totally different opinion of the other. Simply to see the argument from their point of view.
Inclusive thinking is allowing as many different ideas as possible before you pick one or two. It also lets everyone participate. A good way to learn inclusive thinking is to join Yammer, Twitter and forums. The advantage of ‘social media’ is, that you can consider your question longer or answer more extensively. You can’t steer or influence the other person’s opinion.
You can also join Open Space meetings, chat with your colleagues at the coffee machine or have a peer-to-peer talk. Share your amazement about how things are going. A big advantage here is that you have real life contact.
The flip side of this coin, is that is also means that you participate as little as possible in all those meaningless, hierarchy affirmative meetings. You know, those meetings that are mere valves for the opinion of the manager and seem to be held to confirm their status. Even a question such as, “what do you think of it?” during such a meeting, is intended to distinguish the bucks from the sheep. It is to discover the followers and the opponents. The latter is by no means meant to include or to really take note of another’s view on the case. To make a bold remark again: “There is actually no such thing as an effective meeting”. It is kinda, what Parkinson said: http://t.co/7VXZj5HS
2. not just multidisciplinairy but interdisciplinairy thinking
I think I find this important, because I have studied business administration, which is pre-eminently a study that calls for simultaneously consideration from a multiple disciplines angle. It is more then just multidisciplinary. It is actually interdisciplinary. At my previous employer we compared both using the following pictures:
3. systems thinking
Systems thinking is not about cutting complicated things into smaller part problems that are more easily managed. Because, when it comes to systems and complex problems within the system, problems can only be solved in conjunction. For this to work you need to discover the relationships between different levels of abstraction and the variables. You can read more about this here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systems_thinking.
Systems thinking is also about discovering reinforcing loops. It is about discovering that a revolutionary change (or the correct emerging crisis) is a process of prolonged and almost invisible evolution. Just like the flywheel and the doom loop. You can read more about that here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_to_Great
It is you that must discover the cohesion. And self-reflective systems are part of the problem. In one of my previous blogs “The I of SIMPLE” I wrote something about that. You can read it here: http://iloapp.abc-thinkbig.com/blog/weblog?Home&post=79
In my life I have had the pleasure to cooperate on many occasions in the composition of a mission (statement). What worked the best, and in any case inspired me the most, was the following: To, together with my colleagues, manager, executives, sharing a number of like-minded etc. core values that are the motive for the organization/company/department. The actual initiative to work. To write down our core values and our relationship with the customer/members/stakeholders. To find and display the companies reason to exist.
I have made a large contribution to the following corporate mission and mission statement of which I’m very proud:
“In partnership with our customer, we want to achieve business goals and opportunities by ensuring that business, people, and IT work together optimally. It is our mission to deliver added value by deploying flexibility, efficiency and quality in conjunction.
Our core values consist of customer interest, professionalism, customer satisfaction, solving problems together, communication skills and self-confidence.
With partnership we mean a fundamental attitude in which:
• We see the relationship with the customer and as a partner for the long term
• We believe mutual respect is a prerequisite in our relationship with our customer and our partners
• We see our role as being the trusted advisor
• We want our services to be especially complementary to the competences of our customer and
• We want to assist our customer and partners in their growth path to adulthood.
In summary: “A relationship that is balanced”
Incidentally, this beautiful mission was not a guarantee that we got things done and it remained alive. There are many other things to take into consideration here, but I would have to refer back to all letters but of simple and that is not so easy.
Keep in contact with yourself and with others. Stay connected with your network and keep in touch with what others do, especially in the organization where you work.
The leader or manager is responsible for ensuring that the right strategic choices are made and that these choices are transparent. So you can get clear view of where the balance lies between your own mission and that of the Organization and whether / and how that fits together.
Then you can create your own choices.