Richard McLaughlin writing on the new Plexus community “Organizational Consultants Network quotes the venerable Marv Weisbord, expert on Organization Behavior, author of Productive Workplaces Revisited and that led me via search to the original Productive Workplaces on Amazon.
Reading their link to the “First Pages” of the older book is really worthwhile to make instantly clear the history of effective HR and OD and how early lessons apply directly today, ultimately explaining how smart financial leaders led us into the current mess.
Conclusion? McLaughlin quotes Weisbord. .from 1987! “The world is changing too fast for experts, and old-fashioned “problem-solving” no longer works. For the past forty years productive workplaces on several continents have been evolving another way entirely of thinking and acting. First, they have been moving away from problem-solving toward whole-systems improvement as the secret for solving great handfuls of problems at once. Second, they have been moving away from getting experts to fix systems toward having experts join everybody else in learning how to make improvements.”
Doesn’t that sound like social networking and The Wisdom of Crowds over command-and-control leadership? You bet! So why haven’t we arrived yet at the point where everyone understands this? I suppose double-entry bookkeeping wasn’t thoroughly accepted by 100% of business for its first hundred years either, though now you wouldn’t start into serious business management without such basic accounting.
McLaughlin goes on to link another excellent article by NYT’s Nicholas Kristof, illustrating how well-functioning groups should be able to out-do experts and ties it directly to today’s disasters. When will we finally learn these lessons and concentrate on leading in new ways?
PS: I love one of Kristof’s references to Berkeley’s Philip Tetlock (author of the 2005 book, Expert Political Judgment – which could have been subtitled ‘yeah, right’). Tetlock, he notes, uses the description “hedgehog” in a negative way. For me that illustrates balancing Jim Collins’ use of it in Good to Great to describe the positive need for focus, which in turn illustrates again the need for balance rather than too much of any one element of effective leadership. And in many cases balance only is achievable by including more people in the process of leadership.