Why management matters….
Why management matters….
Essential viewing especially for all of you who promote fast start-ups:
How do we provide enterprise coaching that provides spaces where people with ideas can meet, swap and take on new forms?
It is a team game after all!
I am glad to say we have been getting much better at this in Leeds recently thanks to tremendous efforts on things like Bettakultcha, Cultural Conversations, and Progress School all helping to build an environment and an ecology where slow hunches can brew.
I spent a fairly surreal afternoon in a lecture theatre in the Leeds Met. Rosebowl yesterday afternoon.
We had been invited to ‘take part in’ (actually watch) a live simulcast from the TEDx team in New York, working with the Gates Foundation to look at progress on the UNs Millenium Development Goals (halving poverty, reducing infant mortality, improving maternal care etc).
Surreal because the entire front row was filled with bagels, muffins, cookies and fruit, the lecture theatre was half empty, and we sat gawping at a large screen while some people in a foreign land berated and congratulated themselves in roughly equal measure on their progress.
As the afternoon went by I got increasingly uncomfortable. A feeling not assuaged by copious bagels and cupcakes, as we witnessed a theatre full of rich folks in New York clapping along to Bajah and the Dry Eye Crew.
But the source of my discomfort was more than just the cultural dissonances. It was that for me some of the central tenets for good development work appeared to have been overlooked.
Instead of being invited in by communities to work on the issues that mattered to them it felt like we (the great and the good of the west) had dropped into their world to work on the issues that mattered to us, as judged by our moral compass and our self interest. Not theirs. And we could do it because we were rich. We could hustle our way into the game because we had a whole stash of cash.
So we celebrated the fact that through increased access to contraception ‘we’ had succeeded in reducing family size in just about the whole world. And as we all know reducing the planets population growth is essential. No mention of the fact that small families in the West use a gazillion times more of the earths resources than even a large African family compound for example.
We celebrated the fact that Coca Cola had a distribution network to flood the 3rd world with diabetes inducing corn syrup based products and that we could use the same channels to flood the same communities with our ideologies of entrepreneurship and ‘progress’. In my experience the tobacco companies have been even more successful in setting up networks of distribution and influence throughout the planet – but I guess they are just too clearly part of the dark side for happy, shiny people to embrace. Good old Coca Cola on the other hand….
One of the first principles of good development should be R.E.S.P.E.CT.
Respect for the culture on the ground. Respect for what local people value and find important. Respect for how they are trying to shape their futures, whether or not they fit neatly with our ideologies and ideals. A certain humility and a refusal to believe that ‘our superiority’ means that we have the solutions to their problems.
Good development work should be less about turning the developing world into entrepreneurs who can, and do, control their own fecundity than about helping people find the power to act in their own interests, rather than ours.
Ted Turner said recently “War is obsolete. You end up bombing your customers.”
And at times yesterday I felt as if the whole Millennium Development Goal thing was a kind of ‘anti-war’, the objective of which is to make everyone healthy and rich enough to consume.
A massive exercise in expanding viable territories. Rather than an exercise in compassionate facilitation of self determination.
As Ted Turner went on to say….’why do you think I gave the UN $1bn? I could have bought a couple of really big yachts with that money.’
Big thanks to @imranali and @herbkim for setting this gig up. One of only 2 in the UK. It certainly engaged the heart and mind of this leeds citizen of the world.
The web has changed (nearly) everything.
It is far more likely that we will read about what you do in a piece written on the web by our peers than a piece written by your Press Office or PR agent on your website.
We have learned to recognise and respond to authentic voices that want to converse. We are increasingly immune to your sales pitches….
In this one day workshop we will explore exactly what has changed because of the web and how.
This will not be a day for technologists and web geeks, but for communications professionals, service managers, business developers, strategists and others who are wondering how to manage perceptions on the web and use them to build a better business.
We will not be looking in any detail at the specifics of particular social media platforms or web sites but we will be examining how the new information that it surfaces can either kill or cure an organisation.
We will then look at practical actions and strategies that will help to re-position you effectively in the web enabled world.
Remember: your customers and service users know more about your products and services right now than you do.
And whether their experience is good or bad, increasingly they will use the web to tell people about it. The only question is, once you accept and understand this, how do you respond?
Who Should Attend?
This workshop will be useful to anyone who is coming to terms with how the web is shaping their business and how they need to re-think strategy and communications as a consequence.
Whether you work on the delivery and management of a public service or in the private or ‘third sector’ our promise is that this workshop will provide yo with practical ideas about how to make the most of the new web2 world.
What we will cover:
The sessions will by led by some of Leeds most influential and experienced bloggers, tweeters and social marketers. By people who care passionately about the web, good business and civic society.
If you fancy lending a hand in the design and delivery of the workshop rather than coming along as participant, or if you have any questions then please do get in touch.
“What we did establish is that the carrots offered were far less effective than the sticks employed.”
Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts – talking about the ‘limited effect’ of Pathways to Work pilots
Sticks and carrots have a long and noble tradition in the management of donkeys. However even with donkeys there are times when the ‘bribe and punish’ approach to change management fails:
In these circumstances we may choose to resort to the stick. But this too will not work if:
But I think the real issue here is not about the limitations of sticks and carrots in the management of donkeys and people.
It is about the complete and utter failure to understand the nature of human motivation. Motivation is that which energises, directs and sustains a person’s efforts. Sustains efforts. Sticks and carrots applied to move a donkey from one (expensive) field to another (less expensive field) do NOTHING to sustain efforts. In fact it is likely to achieve the opposite. The donkey returns to its passive state until more carrots and sticks appear on the scene. And the state wants more enterprising communities?
But the major problem is not treating people like donkeys, and further dulling their enterprising souls. It is that the state believes that this is the most effective, fair and just way of changing behaviour. That this is such a common default setting when trying to manipulate the behaviours and choices of its citizens.
And we wonder why ‘community engagement’ is so difficult. When you have beaten and bribed your donkeys into submission don’t expect them to engage with you, without the use of ever more sticks and carrots.
Perhaps instead of resorting to a coercive approach to change, we might try instead a coaching approach?
Helping people to recognise their long term self interest and how it may be pursued. Helping them to develop the power they need to make progress in their lives. Helping them to recognise that it is possible and that they don’t need to be pushed around by a bureaucratic system of sticks and carrots. That THEY have choices and agency in their own lives. Vegetable wielding bureaucrats do not have to be the architects of their future.
And what if someone decides that their long-term self interest is served by staying exactly where they are?
Well, we could just leave them alone and put our time, energy and investment into those that want to explore pastures new. Why should the squeaky wheel get all the grease?
Because perhaps people are more like sheep than donkeys. When they see some of the flock moving forward others are sure to follow.