Schlagwort-Archive: Leadership

Building blocks of a value-adding whole

Aristotle already had in his metaphysics, more than two thousand years ago, the right intuition – The whole is more than the sum of its parts. However, the Cartesian perspective has broken the world down into its components for centuries, thereby obscuring the look at the holistic possibilities. Despite the encouraging experiences of companies like 3M or W. L. Gore & Associates GmbH, large corporations struggle to rethink. Aligning collaboration based on the needs of the employees and creating a more fruitful whole through with the resulting engagement is the ultimate purpose. The inability to leverage these strengths can only be explained by the inertia of the responsible managers. They are unsure how it will go on for them when the bureaucratic regulations, permanent surveillance, and excessive news dissemination are no longer needed, and they become obsolete. The brave are already trying agility in various forms – agile enterprise, agile organization, agile employees, agile managers, agile culture, agile mindset, agile project management, and agile product development, simply agile hodgepodge.

The following building blocks promote productive wholeness.

  • Positive diversity
    In a VUKA world, the components found on different levels influence each other mutually. To react appropriately, i.e., to act at the right place and, above all, on time, other capabilities take center stage. Ashby’s law of required variety has clarified that the greater the variety of acts of a system controlling others, the better it can compensate for disturbances. This means that the remaining managers and employees must be more diverse in their traits, behavior, and means than the tasks and the competition. The difference is created by:
    –  a wider range of skills (e.g., besides technical, also social and systemic capabilities),
    –  an extra commitment of all,
    –  extended perseverance,
    –  the restriction to tasks that are needed,
    –  the interaction in the team, and
    –  a strong sense of responsibility.
    The losers are all those who continue to worship lockstep and only add skills that already exist in the company.
  • Leadership style without leadership
    The new style replaces leadership with fostering. The most significant burden for a company is a legacy structure, whose decision-making and reporting paths are unnecessarily long, diluting resolutions and slowing the speed. Leaving the choice to employees at the point of action creates a momentum that the usual leadership cannot match. At the same time, the open work style provides employees with a common direction and security. Influence then no longer comes from a formally established position but trust and contagious enthusiasm.
  • Entrepreneurs in the company
    The days of economic officialdom are coming to an end. The new understanding of leadership works through entrepreneurial action. The employees can no longer pull back from solving a given task but must behave like they owned the company. They have, as a result, more risks. On the one hand, a large company offers the danger of unintentional mishaps and losses, but on the other hand, these are more than offset by surprising gains. Even if individual units can fulfill their tasks more flexibly, the whole remains a large fleet that works together because of its joint alignment.
  • The energy is in each personality
    Everything that happens originates in the minds of individual employees. If the human image of the Theory Y is adopted by the leaders, they can bring their experiences and abilities to effect. Together, they experience adventures that expand their mental models with new insights. With a shared vision, ideas emerge that are no longer predetermined but are jointly elaborated and move the company forward. Combined with the personal drive fueled by shared momentum, the fitness evolves that secures the business.

Bottom line: It is not a question of the size of your company whether it has to take care of the new leadership beyond agility, but when. Change is happening no matter what. And if you are already suffering from the feeling that you should be taking more care of your employees, or that cost pressure is melting your margins, or that the economic climate is threatening you, then the right moment has come to act. Should you have done it earlier? This question is useless because you cannot turn back time. The positive diversity, the leadership style without leadership, the entrepreneurs in the company, and the use of the existing personalities are building blocks that already take you extremely far. You only need to activate your most vital advantage now – namely the whole that is jointly generated with everybody and brings more than the tayloristic waste through the old-fashioned bureaucracy.

How much remains for managing a project

The image that we have of project managers is determined by our imagination. A project is a temporary undertaking of different size with a clear start and end as well as the required resources – personnel, budget, and infrastructure. Managers are personalities with the role that includes controlling the activities with wide-ranging authority and responsibility for the results. In the end, a project manager actually is a doer, founder, employer, entrepreneur, or leader. The fact that this task is often limited to the role of a clerk or a coordinator without power, explains the fact that projects often do not achieve their objectives.

The company founder normally starts one business at a time. The wrong expectations towards project leaders result in a lack of empowerment and are reflected in the number of parallel projects to be managed – a single project has 100% attention (40 hours per week); each of four projects 25% (10 hours per week); with eight projects 13% each (5 hours per week). Depending on the modus operandi (e.g. PMBoK, PRINCE, GPM or even agile approaches) the activities may differ. However, in any case, communication with the participants has to take place, the team has to be led on request and daily and weekly reports have to be prepared.

  • Required communication
    This includes the taking care of emails, phone calls and meetings. On average, we have to deal with 21 to 50 daily emails and 11 to 50 phone calls. In addition, meetings with the project teams, managers and external parties are needed, each of which takes between 15 to 60 minutes or even more. With several projects, the project manager sometimes only has one hour per week for this exchange.
  • Appropriate leadership
    Leading includes personal alignment with employees and managers (e.g. feedback, target agreement, personal career), solving disputes and crises, and providing motivation and support. With in a year, this quickly accounts for 20% of working time – i.e. one day per week across various projects. Of these eight hours per week, sometimes only one hour is available for leadership per initiative.
  • Mandatory reports
    Comprehensibility is the essential purpose of the reports. Many addressees assume that up-to-dateness, accuracy, consistency and significance come at the push of a button. However, the project manager ensures through random samples that the data and figures provided by the team members are in a timely and correct manner that fit to each other. Daily controlling is the prerequisite for always up-to-date data that are regularly integrated to overarching reports.
  • Overarching tasks
    The summary of the daily data to weekly, monthly, quarterly milestone and final reports regarding the progress of the project, the employees deployed, the financial consumption as well as the need for action and decision making creates for various stakeholders a current overview. In addition, certain tasks take place weekly, such as the start and end of the week, including lessons learned and plan adjustments. The number of reports can vary from one project to another. With multiple projects, the project manager may merely spend an hour a week to produce conclusive reports in the respective initiative.
  • Remaining time
    The rest is available for other spontaneous tasks – content-related, relational and personal activities. With several projects, the project manager may have only one hour per week for unexpected tasks.

Bottom line: It should be clear that this workload cannot be compensated by overtime. Projects are the form for today’s tasks. If one takes the objectives seriously and really wants to achieve the desired results, then those ordering parties should offer under all circumstances the project management the chance to commit oneself to one project or to accept the fact that the project will fail with a two-thirds probability. Otherwise: Project managers with five parallel projects have only eight hours per project and week.