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Agilemma – Spirits that I’ve cited, my commands ignore

Even if you fasten your seat belt, close the door and place a group of doorwomen in front of the office, as a manager you cannot hide from the demands of the VUCA world. The speed at which you have to react and the amount of skills required no longer allow us to rely on the rigid frameworks of the past. If even the American military sets up its troops with a new managing style, it should become clear to the last one that the time has come for new leadership styles. Since the solution is different for everyone, we have to design our own approach. At the same time, we run the risk of becoming sorcerer’s apprentices and being overrun by the released forces. – Spirits that I’ve cited, my commands ignore.

There are three aspects that tear you apart as a leader and give rise to the fear that you will lose control forever, once you have opened the floodgates.

  • New concepts
    What does it take to let go and engage in spontaneous improvisations that lead to a convincing result done by the self-organized participants? So far, everyone’s commitment has been crushed by distributing tasks, competence and responsibility on different shoulders. The greatest effect is achieved when everything is in one hand and the group takes responsibility for the result. People do not only spare the unproductive time of detailed planning, the slowing down of colleagues due to excessive control or the relief that is created by assigning blame to others. Those who do not drive these changes forward will be driven by the changes – now, or perhaps not before tomorrow.
  • Different leadership styles
    The troops stand no longer in line and follow orders. They have their own ideas and conceptions which they want to implement. The competition stops taking place between the own team mates but with other groups. In the future the individual destiny will depend on the fate of the whole team. This means for the manager that the organization is no longer developed by designing the positions and regularly control the behavior of the employees. The boss is now a coach, fostering his employees as an available contact person and solving the insolvable issues. The group is promoted as a whole, learns together and shares the joy and sorrow of the outcomes. If you don’t get involved, you lose the loyalty of your employees and thus your purpose as a manager.
  • Value-based governance
    In the past nothing functioned without governance and in groups it will never work without it. The personal commitment is the main reason for the willingness of the employees to get involved. The laws, standards and guidelines are the regulations that you HAVE to follow – otherwise you will receive more or less defined sanctions. In the end, this leads to doing things right – especially in the economic sense. This type of governance is exacerbated by filtered information, whose credo is shaped by „knowledge is power“ – it is not entirely wrong to either speak of censorship. The new approach focuses on doing the right thing out of inner conviction. The fuel is not the fear of punishment, but the intrinsic commitment to your task. This requires information distributors, who keep the involved people up to date. Those who cannot apply this value-based management are crushed by the old rules and eventually become obsolete.

This does not mean that doors and ways are opened to anarchy. It is about giving the team, and thus each individual employee, the freedom to achieve more with the existing strengths, instead of exhausting oneself with senseless and futile (self-) limitations.

Bottom line: The master of these magical powers is not the sorcerer’s apprentice, but the master. The loss of control of the trainee comes from the fact that he did not practice enough yet. That is why he formulates a bit early:

Bubble! Bubble!
Some route,
that, for the purpose,
water flows
and with a rich, full flood
to pour to the bath.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

without having the capability to reverse the command. One or the other can certainly imagine the helplessness of the sorcerer’s apprentice. All concerned people are still integrated into the old structures. At the same time, many recognize the opportunities, but do not want to get into the situation of the sorcerer’s apprentice. For this reason, you should pro-actively take care of the new approaches of agility. In delimited special operation zones, which are exempt from the old rules, these new concepts, different management styles and value-based governance can be practiced by everybody. The Agilemma will slowly dissolve that way and the spirits that one has cited, you no longer want to get rid of, but to use it in growing circles.

The inherent blur of each message

By using Wingding’s Alt-C 120 you can create eight triangles at the touch of a button that in some cultures standing for selecting and in others deselecting something. You can recognize the ten of the Latins or the symbol of the research department of Alphabet Inc. The view from above onto the pyramid simultaneously shows the sign of the Bulgarian Air Force and is also the genealogical symbol for illegitimate. All right? Most of the time not. Every message is blurred on principle, since the undisclosed context of the involved people is crucial for the interpretation.

Ideally we have three perspectives: the sender, the receiver and the neutral observers of a message. Everyone has its own standpoint concerning a message: rejection, neutrality or consent.

  • Sender
    The senders develop ideas and spread more or less and sometimes not at all digested messages. To what extent the senders are pursuing an intention, only they themselves know – if at all. Some produce statements that are consistent with their intentions. Others formulate messages that are contrary to their other opinions. It can also happen that the explanations mean nothing at all. Only the senders know what they actually mean. From the outside, we can only speculate based on further statements.
  • Receiver
    For the receivers, the message consists not only of what is said or shown, but also of the accompanying signals. They perceive the messages through their senses, e.g. visually, auditory, or kinesthetic – they see what is meant, it sounds good, and feels coherent. Eventually, they determine the content of the message. They connect the content with their experience and knowledge. For some, the contents confirm their conception of the world. Others cannot but contradict the statement. And some people don’t care. Only the recipients know what is going on in their mind. From the outside, we can see how the message works based on the reactions.
  • Observer
    The observers are not the target group of the message. They can pursue neutrally what happens between the sender and the receiver. Even if they think they are neutral, they process their observations with their mental models. Some draw benevolent conclusions and incorporate them into their affirmative view. Others unconsciously do the opposite and with their negative view they provide a critical treatment of the whole. Even the neutral observer distorts, because his disinterest is accordingly reflected in his description of the situation. Only they know what happens in their minds. From the outside, it is impossible to assess what actually happened.

From this point of view, we have to be prepared for the fact that in most cases we are dealing with alternative facts – something that professional fact makers do not want to hear. What do we expect from a message that the sender did not mean, that the recipient gets the wrong way and that the observer reports in a negative way? In this case the message creates nothing but noise in the stream of significant information. It is the act that counts in the end.

Bottom line: The only thing that counts is the inherent blurring of messages. There is no objectively tangible truth, only personal interpretations. Senders, receivers and observers cannot get out of their settings and thus deliberately or unintentionally distort the facts. Though, the cry for objective facts is nothing more than a helpless desire for truth.