Do you suffer from corporate obedience?
Are you wealthier but not healthier and happier than your parents?
Does your employer demand your “all” without guaranteeing a continuity of employment in return?
Are you stressed, anxious, disengaged or frustrated?Fair chance that you are trapped in an old-style steam-engine organization, custom-built to suppress collaborating, problem-solving, innovating and socializing.
Perfect for repetitive tasks, standardization, and efficiency. Disastrous for inspiration, purpose, trust, innovation and making a difference to the greater good.
So, what can you do to upgrade your industrial organization?
Mark Powell and Jonathan Gifford wrote the book “My Steam Engine is Broken – taking the organization from the industrial era to the age of ideas.”
It aligns with Gary Hamel’s work and Frederic Laloux’s Reinventing Organizations. More and more people are waking up to the poignant fact that our workplaces are so old-fashioned that they don’t serve their purpose anymore. Modern organizations need to be innovative and agile, but many are not.But where do you start to change?
The organization as a whole is a daunting job to change. Powell and Gifford propose to transform the steam engine bit by bit by tackling the ten paradoxes that steam-engine organizations do that actively prevent them from achieving their goals while they think they do a good job.
Let go of control
First, we must learn to let go because control is killing the organization. Moreover, control is an illusion. Most of us crave control to acquire a sense of safety: “The world is normal, people are predictable, and there are rules to obey.” But the reality is complex and complete control does not exist. Trying to control people is based on a lack of trust: basically, there’s doubt that they are knowing, willing and able to do the right thing. Control diminishes motivation almost immediately. That’s why Ricardo Semler tore up a “phonebook” of procedures when he took over Semco. He argued that “rules and regulations divert attention from a company’s objectives, provide a false sense of security for executives and create work for bean-counters.” (Quote from his book: Maverick).The efficiency of bean-counters will not change the world, but our brilliant ideas might. Innovation is the driving force of successful organizations.But even though there seems to be a consensus that hierarchical control is not the best way to run an organization anymore, not many organizations are letting go of control. It is not easy to copy the agile start-ups that use the network organization concept and expect employees to be self-motivated, working in projects and managing themselves.