Stop the waste of the latest management fad

When I came out of university in the 90s, it was TQM. Then we moved into BPM and Process Re engineering, followed by six sigma and lean and lately, graduated into scaled Agile. During these many years I learned how to work in and with top down and matrix management, management by objectives and by consensus.  I Experienced the cubical office, the open space hot desking and the mandatory bean bags. I refer to all of these as management fads.

What is a management fad?

I characterize a management fad by the following:

  • Easy to understand by using principles and visual concepts that come with a clear process for management on what to do and how to use
  • Is tailored to answer the current/ latest business world problem: diversification, globalisation, digitalisation, automation, etc.
  • Claims to be universal regardless the industry, culture, size etc. hence “easy” to copy from another company as “best practice”, so you can be as successful as they are.
  • And finally, it is promoted by well recognised management experts that make a lot of money out of it.

It is true, I have been part of that system. Every few years a new promise takes over as the favorite among management consultants and executives. These management fads are usually not “new” rather they wrap century old values of money and control into a “new” something. These fads also come with new jobs.  Like the ISO auditors, Process engineers, Six sigma black belt ninjas, Agile coaches and many others.  All, there to help management ensure the “cut and paste” is done correctly. Fads are not fundamentally wrong, some have profoundly changed companies, for better or for worse. Some even introduced useful ideas that stayed longer than the fad itself. However, fads over promise and under deliver, hence doomed to be replaced by the next ones.

Why do we have these fads?

When I reflect on how come we fall for these repeatedly, I think the answer is management laziness. I can explain. We all know that the world (and business) problems are becoming significantly faster and more complex.  We also know that in most cases it requires us to:

  • Enable multidisciplinary collaboration of passionate and capable people, wanting to achieve something bigger then themselves
  • Learning, course correcting and becoming better at, and staying with it, until the problem is solved
  • Focus on creating value and reducing waste with in context and adaptive approaches

But changing values and behavior, navigating the complexity and needing effort and courage to progress is hard so we go for the fad. Think about it, loosing weight is simple: eat less, exercise more – right? So, how come we have a massive industry, billions of dollars, millions of experts and similar number of books and we are still on a promising trend for obesity? Same with management, we know the principles, but we hope that by buying into the latest we can get a quick fix.

I say to senior management, stop it. There is no one size fit all, there is no method that is better than the other, there is no consultant that knows better than you what your vision is and how to motivate and keep you and your team on track to create,  there is no end date or a magic transformation, and there is no pink pill. There is only a purpose, a desire to learn, and care for the people around you. All with limited resources and hard work.

But…!

If you need external push or specific advice, absolutely, get help. Get a (real) expert, get a good coach, get a useful tool, get a process that works. But own it, cause the change. It is your job and your problem to solve.

 

Hadas is the founder of Adaptive Futures and a future of work enabler.

“MasterChef” – 8 key lessons to take away

I don’t watch most “reality” shows.  I often find that these programmes exploit human weaknesses as a way to make cheap entertainment. However, I take an exception with MasterChef (the Australian version). I love good food and appreciate the creativity, innovation and mastery that go into making a master chef dish. Even more than that, I am inspired by how the show is able to create a space for ordinary cooks to bring their whole selves into this experience. It is a space where everyone is given an equal opportunity to show their skills, learn and grow. It is also a space that defines winning when someone is able to combine their passion and ongoing learning with giving it all to be better than their last dish.

So on that very serious note,  here is what I took from MasterChef that you might be to take out from the kitchen and into your work life.

Learning from the To be Chefs

1. The courage to experiment

The strong players of the show are the ones that have a passion and mastered some type of dishes and techniques and can use these strengths as often as possible. But the winners are the ones that also always take some risks and try new combinations or a new way of doing things. The great players know that taking a risk can be the difference between moving to the next phase or going into elimination.

2. Achieve growth by competing to be better than your last dish

The best players are the people who stay focus on their own dishes, learn from their own mistakes and push themselves further. It does not matter how good was your previous dish, you are always judged on your last dish. It is also interesting to see that when you play to outperform your own last dish, it is easy to show generosity toward others. Others being great, does not take away from your own amazing creations.

3. At the same time, be coachable and confident with your own abilities

The show has amazing coaches, people that stand near the competitors, push them almost to their breaking point, challenge them to think differently and never tell what or how to do things. The winners are the ones that listen, take on board what is relevant but are also able, at the same time, to stay focus on their original vision and own instincts.

4. The real winners emerge after the show ends

The winners of the show get a positive nudge into their career as chefs. But it seems that some of the other participants have equally taken the experience as an opportunity to propel their own passions.

Learning from the winning dishes

1. The Ingredients are the base for amazing dishes

The more variety and better quality these ingredients are the better chances you have to create multiple, unique and desirable dishes. The same ingredients can make multiple dishes, all taste and look different. It is critical though to know what combinations work and which will be a culinary disaster. Think about your individual knowledge, skills, abilities and style as the ingredients and the dishes as your unique multiple value propositions.

2. A vision for the final dish

Regardless if you are following a recipe, or creating something totally new, you have to have a vision of how the final dish is going to look and taste like. If you don’t, most likely you will lose too much time trying and failing, so you will run out of time to deliver any dish at all. When you offer your talents to deliver value, you have to be clear what it is that you are actually offering.

3. It’s a science and an art

While knowing the techniques and mastering the cooking is important, the key for the final result is testing and adjusting all the time. Your end results are only as good as your testing sense.
At work, it is not just your own talents and specific work that come into play, the organisation, the team and the customers are all impacting the end result. You have to strive for mastery but you equally need to have the ability to sense and adapt in real time.

4. Looks is important but the taste is the key

How the dish is plated is important because people eat with their eyes first. But it is not enough; if the taste is disappointing there won’t be a second spoon. Having a great CV, a polished pitch or rehearsed interview answers is important when first engaging but it is the true value you create that matter for a sustainable work future.

 

bon appétit

 

Hadas is a Future of Work Enabler

In retrospect – 3 lessons learned on being an Entrepreneur

“Being an entrepreneur is living a meaningful and adventurous life; it requires courage, commitment, and curiosity to learn” Hadas

It has been six months since I created this definition for myself. Many things happened that mixed work and personal life, I had to develop new skills and face new and sometimes uncomfortable realities. In retrospect, it’s definitely shaping to be one of the most interesting adventures I have taken in my career. Here are my top 3 takeaways

Focus

Most of us live a very busy and demanding life: wake up, go to work, deal with the politics, get paid, manage our personal life, go to sleep, wake up and start again. How much of that is really to do with your passion, with your purpose?. I thought I was making the most out of it, and then I got out of the formal job world for a bit and I discovered the power of being single-minded. Focus on one thing.

I spend my days only on the things that matter to me with no purposeless meetings, no meaningless PowerPoints, only work that has value. Being focus enables everything you do to be part of your purpose. This is regardless of whether you are investing your energy with a family member, helping a colleague or developing a product.

I am realistic that my work context may change, but the experience made it very clear to me that focusing only on the things that matter has to be my way of working from now.

Learning and reflection time

I remember a conversation a few years ago with a frustrated executive. Employee engagement results came back and one of the top areas of concerns for the employees was learning and development. It made no sense. The organisation had a sizable training budget and fast-changing work requirements meant people had lots of opportunities to learn something new. True. What people didn’t have was the time for retrospects and no time to embed new knowledge into useful skills before rushed to the next thing. Hence, no real learning and development.

In the last six months, I really got it. There are many hours where I am busy doing something (usually new), researching a new topic or meeting someone. But it is the ability to have the time in between, doing something different that allows for new insights to surface and new learning to become useful.

Grit 

By (my) definition as an Entrepreneur, you innovate to disrupt.  This means that in many cases people might intellectually engage with the need for your product but not for them as they don’t really want to be changed. When you are on your own or part of a small team, this can be daunting.

Grit is one of the qualities we will need more and more in the future. I, for example, am taking one pill of grit a day.  It contains the following ingredients: a reminder of the purpose and why I do what I do, a conviction that this is really going to make a positive difference in the world and a sprinkle of fun. 🙂

“If you want to change the world, start with yourself.” Mahatma Gandhi

 

 

@Hadas Wittenberg is a future of work enabler and founder of Adaptive-Futures.

Why being 50 is the new black

…and the best age to become an entrepreneur
 
First of all why not? And if not now, when?
 
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek”. Barack Obama
 
We tend to link start-ups with young, poor students with a dream to change the world or make huge amount of money (or both), who stumbled on a great idea and became billionaires. It has a romantic flavour to it, doesn’t it? In contrast, leaving the “security” of a well-paid job in a large corporate at the peak of your so called ”career ”, to fulfil your purpose seems damn crazy. But if I think about it, it makes a huge amount of sense…
 
I am ready – I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist (well maybe more than a bit), so in a way I was preparing throughout my entire career for this moment. I needed the learning, to experiments, the successes and failures, the connections with people and getting a clear answer to the Why question, so in a way I probably would not have done it 10 or 20 years ago.
 
Life experience – experience can be holding you back if you mean it to be doing the same as your past learning (this is called repetition). But if you are like me, always learning, your life experience becomes about encountering so many dots and so many attempts at connecting them that you can see the solutions where no one else can.
 
No time left for regrets – As a little girl I had this strong sense of justice. I remember explaining to the principle at the young age of 10 why it was not fair that in art/craft classes the boys were making this cool stool and the girls were to learn to sew. I don’t remember getting a satisfactory explanation, including throughout my adult life. It is now relevant more than ever to take a stand for inclusion where all members of society have the same opportunities, that people from all groups are valued and respected and that everyone has a voice.
 
Lead by example In recent years I have been quoted saying to staff “The robots are
coming, get ready”. With the exponential change we are currently experiencing and the uncertainties regarding the future of work it is critical that we all recreate our own value proposition. You can only inspire others to do that if you practice it yourself.
“Being an entrepreneur is living a meaningful and adventurous life; it requires courage, commitment and curiosity to learn. Being 50 and being an entrepreneur is also to turn your life experience, your connections and your desire to continue growing into an execution power to make a real dent in the world”