While the global financial meltdown and its aftershocks have unleashed a flood of indignation, condemnation, and protest upon Wall Street, the crisis has exposed a deeper distrust and implacable resentment of capitalism itself.
If organizations are going to evolve from the hierarchical, command-and-control structure that has dominated over the past century to a new model where trust, transparency and meritocracy are guiding principles, they're going to need to change the way they develop leaders. To gain some insight into how the leadership development process is adapting to the challenge of creating leaders who are inclusive, progressive, and able to look beyond their organization for great ideas, we turned to the MIX community. With our partners at HCI, the Human Capital Institute, we sponsored the HCI Human Capital M-Prize on Leadership, and we asked you to share your stories on leadership development.
For all of the time spent chasing after what looks like success, too many of us have only a dim sense of what it feels like. That's clearly a wide-spread cultural malady, but it acquires special force in the world of work.
Organizations invest billions annually on a success curriculum known as "leadership development," which ends up leaving so much on the table. Training and development programs almost universally focus factory-like on inputs and outputs—absorb curriculum, check a box; learn a skill, advance a rung; submit to assessment, fix a problem. Likewise, they leave too many people behind with an elite selection process that fast-tracks "hi-pots" and essentially discard the rest. And they leave most people cold with flavor of the month remedies, off sites, immersions, and excursions—which produce little more than a grim legacy of fat binders gathering dust on shelves.
Back in September I was lucky enough to participate in IBM's centennial THINK forum in New York City . The lineup included a staggering array of CEOs of the biggest, oldest, and most influential companies in the world, several heads of state (on loan from the General Assembly sessions at the UN across town), and a handful of boldface journalists and thought leaders. For all of the power on display in that room, the real topic of the moment was insurrection.
To transform organizations so that they are fit for human beings--more inspiring and engaging and yet just as disciplined and even more productive--we need to understand why promising ideas for improving management developed in the 20th Century--such as teams, empowerment, delayering or innovation--failed to become a permanent part of the standard management repertoire.
Organizations that thrive over the long run, in good times and bad, pay explicit attention to all these issues. Three of them, though, seem particularly crucial as we think about new challenges confronting us today.
We're delighted to introduce the second leg of The Harvard Business Review/McKinsey M-Prize for Management Innovation. For too long, the ruling ideology of too many organizations has been bureaucratic control. So much of organizational life goes against the grain of human nature--advancing compliance and conformance over individual expression and discretion, top-down command over passion-driven performance, tight control over autonomy and flexibility.
We know that if we want to close the gap between the status quo and our big dream of creating companies that are fundamentally fit for the future (and fit for human beings), we need to enlist the ideas and energies of the most progressive thinkers and radical doers from every realm of endeavor.
As dispiriting as the recent debt ceiling dysfunction drama has been, the most disturbing plot point is not that our leaders can’t seem to compromise—but that they are so compromised. While the pundits continue to parse the no-win “deal” and the bloviators bemoan the failures of leadership, the rest of us might take the opportunity to consider the benefits of being uncompromising.
The most winning and progressive organizations depend less on the strength of their leaders than on the strength of their convictions (which should never be confused with political positions). Instead of putting people on pedestals (from which they are invariably knocked down), the focus is on putting stakes in the ground (from which they will never deviate).
We’re delighted to announce the semifinalists for the Management 2.0 Challenge. In this first leg of the HBR/McKinsey M-Prize for Management Innovation, we asked the most progressive thinkers and radical doers from every realm of endeavor to share a Story (a real-world case study of a single practice, an initiative, or a broad-based transformation) or a Hack (a disruptive idea, radical fix, or experimental design) that illustrates how the principles and tools of the Web can help to overcome the limits of conventional management and help to create Management 2.0.
For all of the fervor around innovation, far too many organizations are hostile places for new ideas (not to mention the people that harbor them). All too often, new ideas are cooked up in a hothouse environment—the executive inner sanctum, an invitation-only innovation offsite, a limited-access “war room”—and not shared widely until they’ve been sanctioned from on high. When they are offered up by some hardy soul in the trenches, they generally have just one place to go: up the chain of command. In other words, they get the hot lights of judgment before they get a chance to breathe.
When it comes to making an impact and accelerating change, it turns out that the how is as important as the what. That goes for both how you design a disruptive initiative--and how you tell your story. To guide M-Prize participants and would-be management innovators alike, here are a set of high-level principles (and some low-to-the-ground tips) that just might increase your chances of success when it comes to making an impact and impressing the judges and your peers in the M-Prize.