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Finding a Better Way for Management

by Shane Hastie on Feb 13, 2012 |

Continuing the series of articles examining the recent Stoos Gathering and the broader Stoos Network coming out of the event, whose goal is to hasten change in organisational management, inspired by the Agile movement in software development and recent advances in management practices embodied in books such as Radical Management, Management 3.0 , Leadership in a Wiki World and The Leader's Dilemma.

There are a number of video interviews with participants and organizers of the event where they explain their motivation and their hopes for the Stoos network. Interviews have been recorded with Steve Denning, Franz Röösli, Jurgen Appelo, Jay Cross, Peter Stevens, Deborah Preuss and Jonas Vonlanthen and Rod Collins.

The common theme coming out of the interviews is the need to transform management approaches to create business environments that delight - delight the customer, create happy employees and bring joy into the workplace, and as a consequence of that change create sustainable, profitable, happy organisations.  


Shane Hastie from InfoQ spoke to Roy Osherove (he is also on twitter: @royosherove) and Franz Röösli (@roeoesli on twitter) who was one of the organisers of the event and co-author of The Leader’s Dilemma.

As with the other participants they answered a series of questions about the event, their motivation for attending and their hopes for the future as a result of the event.

InfoQ:  Please could you briefly introduce yourself to the InfoQ readers:
Roy:  I'm the author of 'the art of unit testing' (http://ArtOfUnitTesting.com) and blogger at http://5whys.com . currently in the process of writing a book named "notes to a software team leader". I focus on the basic unit of work at software - the software team and leadership. some people call it middle management. I call it "the people who get their hands dirty" :)  

Franz: I am a researcher, lecturer and management trainer at the University of Applied Sciences Nortwestern Switzerland (FHNW). I am also a director of the Beyond Budgeting Round Table  (http://bbrt.org/) and co-authored in 2011 together with two BBRT-colleagues the book The Leader’s Dilemma.

Please describe the Stoos event in one or two sentences from your point of view?
Roy:   The stoos event was an attempt to create common ground between seperate, parallel points of view, around the same big concept of 'new leadership'
Franz:  The group who gathered at Stoos the first weekend of this year, is a varied bunch of 21 people mixed by coincidence and based on the individual network of the four initiators.
The unifying feature of this diverse group is the notion that there is a profound need for transforming the way organizations are led and managed.

InfoQ:  Why did you attend?
Roy:  I felt that Stoos was going to be the place where I could be heard and understood about the things I was fighting for in today's middle management's struggles. that the things I believe in are one stream that is going to join a river of thought towards the same goal.
Franz: It happened to me that I was one of the four organizers, beside Steve Denning, Jurgen Appelo and Peter Stevens.

InfoQ: How was the meeting itself organised?
Roy:  Word of mouth - and emails. Then it ran as an open event,  very self organizing.
Franz: For the first part which lasted almost half a day, we spent about a third of our time in introducing ourselves to get to know each other to build trust throughout the group. Afterwards it was a self-organizing event with combined elements of Open Space and World-Café trying to use best the collective intelligence of the group in the restricted time frame of the event.

InfoQ: Were the right people at the event?  If so, why and if not who was missing?
Roy:  Whoever came was the right people. It was not easy getting there (I literally had to withstand a snow storm to be able to enter the building..!) and not cheap. You had to really want to be there.
Franz:  Yes. There was a lot of intense discussion, different opinions, diverse backgrounds combined with openness, trust and the absence of dogmatic backseat-drivers. The group was happy at the end of the event. But of course also a different formation of people would have been the right people. There is no such thing like the only one right bunch of people.

InfoQ: What do you feel is the relationship be between the Stoos Network and contemporary management movements, how will they be complimentary or contradictory or indifferent?
Roy:  I hope it will be the last straw to drive a tipping point of change in management and leadership thinking. A sort of mental move from the separate, individual knowledge each of us has about what's broken in today's leadership's in many places, and into a different notion of "shared knowledge" where "everyone knows that everyone knows" this, and "everyone knows that everyone else knows that everyone knows" this.
Shared knowledge is how real revolutions start. individual knowledge in silos is where they end.
Franz:  I hope the different management movements will be complimentary. At the same time it is an important issue to combine forces and not to invest energy in competition or self-adulation. We were reaching out for members of different management movements and invited quite a few, based on our individual contacts and there were a few at the meeting being involved in already existing management movements. It is the intention of Stoos network to connect and exchange with other movements in order to build a net of networks, cross-pollination is something that really can bring progress.

InfoQ: What is the most concrete and specific thing that you took away from the event?
Roy: That I have a lot to learn, and that smarter people than me think that leadership training and direction is broken.
Franz: There is a continuation of activities after the event, especially via different social media channels inviting and involving interested people to participate in the discussion. So the event ended with a beginning of discussions, exchanges, interviews like this one, etc. It is likely that there will be many more groups evolving with some overlap of people. So in my view the Stoos event’s function - most of all -  is being an initiator and incubator for dispersed activity via social media and people who will meet in person.


InfoQ: What are the changes you would like to see happening as a result of the formation of the Stoos network?
Roy:   A feeling of internal power that "i'm not alone" in managers today, that they know that what they believe in is not some crazy thought, but that there are many more people out there that feel the same way - that some things are just not working as they should - that leadership, in most cases, has no idead how to really lead people.
I want that team leader out there who feels clueless about what they are doing, to not sit there and tell themselves that it's they're fault for feeling stupid, but to realize that managers everywhere feel clueless every day, because no one teaches you how to be a leader, just a a manager. sometimes, not even that.
That they feel there is a global movement of people who want to lead better.
Franz:  The motto on the webpage of Stoos Network is ‘facilitating a tipping point’. That’s exactly how I see it. If the event and the continuing activities around it, help to increase actions to transform what we call traditional management or command-and-control management, it would mean a lot. Personally I believe the root cause we have to work on is the mindset, the deeper lying (even unconscious) assumptions. It is about a paradigm shift in thinking; very briefly that means away from mechanistic management of the non-living assets (machines, money) to stewardship of the living (people, living organism, nature) as it is also mentioned in the Stoos Network communique (these terms originate by J. Bragdon’s ‘Profit for Life’). This turns the non-living assets to means (in today’s management thinking they are the ends, e.g. shareholder value). And the living assets become the end – stewardship of the living. With such a reinvented belief system as a consequence, organizations will look differently in organizational design, leadership, etc. due to the fact that they possess a different purpose. So that’s what I really would appreciate to see happening as a result further down the road.

InfoQ: The Stoos Communiqué is very open-ended – in your opinion how can people contribute most effectively to making the changes?
Roy:  I'm not sure yet. I think the first step is to realize that personal action is stronger than anything else. so a step in the right direction is to start learning on your own, and from resources out there, how to lead better towards such a goal.
Personally, I think people should learn to be better leaders, as a first step.
One step I've taken is to try and teach the things that have worked well for me over the years, and blog them at http://5whys.com  - I think it's helping because a lot of IT folks really are missing these very basic building blocks of leadership. and I've learned a lot in the process as well.
Franz: It is important that everybody who is intrigued with the values and ideas of the communique starts his or her own activities, via social media and in person. It is about trying to build up a snowball effect. One cannot await the Stoos group to be the formal organizer of the development of the movement; it is not about awaiting, it is more about connecting, going into action one-self and serving the network being a member of it. Self-responsibility and self-organization is key for a growing movement and community.

InfoQ: Looking into the future: how might the Stoos Network operate?
Roy:   I don't know. maybe just information sharing and conferences where like minded and different minded people meet and talk through the tough issues.
Franz: I think the Stoos Network can be regarded as a complex, self-organizing system, and it is the very nature of such systems that you don’t know what they are going to do and to be exactly. My wish is that the Stoos Network will be a trigger for the formation of many more groups, communities, events, forums, etc. and also stay as one part of this bigger net of networks.

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